Bob Zimmer, born on October 20, 1968, is a Canadian politician known for his active role as a member of Parliament (MP) representing the British Columbia riding of Prince George—Peace River—Northern Rockies since May 2, 2011. He has been an influential figure within the Conservative Party and has dedicated himself to serving his constituents and advocating for their interests.
Early Life and Education
Bob Zimmer was born and raised in Dawson Creek, British Columbia. Growing up in the neighboring town of Fort St. John, he developed a strong work ethic and a passion for community involvement. After completing his studies at North Peace Secondary School in 1986, Zimmer embarked on a career in the oil industry, initially working as a welder’s assistant.
Driven by a desire for personal growth and professional development, Zimmer pursued further education. He attended the Northern Lights College, where he became a journeyman carpenter, allowing him to establish a small construction business from 1995 to 1998. In the pursuit of his passions, Zimmer also played rugby for the British Columbia Rugby Union while living in the Fraser Valley. Later, he enrolled at Trinity Western University, where he earned a bachelor’s degree in Human Kinetics. During his time at the university, Zimmer also coached varsity rugby, further showcasing his commitment to sports and mentorship. Following this, he completed a 12-month teaching degree at the University of British Columbia and returned to his hometown of Fort St. John to pursue a teaching career at the North Peace Secondary School.
Bob Zimmer’s political journey began in 1988 when he joined the Reform Party of Canada. He drew inspiration from influential figures such as Ralph Klein, former premier of Alberta, and Preston Manning, the leader of the Reform Party. During his time in Abbotsford, British Columbia, Zimmer actively campaigned for Randy White, a Reform Party member of parliament. Upon his return to Fort St. John, Zimmer continued his political involvement by joining the Conservative Party’s Prince George—Peace River Electoral District Association. In 2009, he assumed the role of secretary and CEO after serving as the association’s president.
In 2010, with the retirement announcement of long-time Member of Parliament Jay Hill, Zimmer seized the opportunity and decided to stand in the nomination election. He resigned from his responsibilities within the Electoral District Association to focus on his candidacy. The nomination race saw Zimmer compete against several notable individuals, including fellow Fort St. John teacher Dan Davies and the former mayor of Prince George, Colin Kinsley. After a preferential vote with 1,350 ballots cast, Zimmer emerged as the successful nominee in the sixth round, solidifying his position as the Conservative Party candidate for the riding.
Member of Parliament
In the federal election held in May 2011, Bob Zimmer faced formidable opponents, including former provincial politician Lois Boone of the New Democratic Party, Prince George lawyer Ben Levine representing the Liberal Party of Canada, and physiotherapist Hilary Crowley of the Green Party of Canada. During his campaign, Zimmer pledged to advocate for reduced spending until the federal budget was balanced, while also prioritizing the improvement and expansion of vital highways in the region. Zimmer’s platform also addressed the issue of pensions for former politicians, emphasizing the need for reform.
Zimmer emerged victorious in the election, securing an impressive 62.12 percent of the vote. His election marked the beginning of his tenure as a Member of Parliament, representing the Prince George—Peace River—Northern Rockies riding. In subsequent federal elections, including the one held in 2015, Zimmer continued to receive significant support from his constituents, securing re-election with over 50 percent of the vote. As a result, the Conservative Party formed the Official Opposition for the 42nd Canadian Parliament.
Throughout his parliamentary career, Zimmer has held various roles within the Conservative Party. After the resignation of outgoing Prime Minister Stephen Harper, Zimmer’s dedication and expertise led him to be appointed as the deputy critic of Families, Children, and Social Development under the leadership of acting party leader Rona Ambrose. In May 2016, Zimmer gained attention for sponsoring and presenting a petition with 25,000 signatures advocating for the de-restriction of the AR-15 semi-automatic modern sporting rifle. Although his advocacy faced criticism following the tragic Orlando nightclub shooting, Zimmer remained committed to his stance.
Zimmer’s influence within the Conservative Party continued to grow, as demonstrated by his endorsement of Andrew Scheer during the 2017 Conservative Party leadership election. After Scheer’s victory, Zimmer’s role expanded as he was reassigned to be the deputy critic of the Treasury Board. He also introduced his first private member’s bill, Bill C-346, in April 2017. The bill aimed to amend the Firearms Act and eliminate the expiry of firearms licenses, while ensuring regular updates of relevant information every 10 years. Although the bill was ultimately defeated at the second reading stage, Zimmer’s commitment to advancing his party’s objectives remained unwavering.
In the October 2019 federal election, Bob Zimmer secured re-election with an impressive mandate, receiving nearly 70 percent of the vote. As a testament to his dedication and expertise, Zimmer was named Shadow Minister for Northern Affairs and Northern Economic Development Agency by Conservative Party leader Andrew Scheer on November 29, 2019.
Conversion Therapy Controversy
On October 28, 2020, Bob Zimmer was among seven Members of Parliament who voted against Bill C-6, which sought to add offenses related to conversion therapy to the Criminal Code. This decision sparked backlash from constituents on social media, leading Zimmer to block those who publicly criticized him. This action reignited the #BlockedByBob hashtag, which had been previously used when Zimmer blocked constituents for similar reasons.
Critics argue that conversion therapy has been linked to detrimental consequences such as depression and suicidal thoughts. Zimmer defended his vote against Bill C-6 by claiming that it could potentially criminalize voluntary conversations between individuals and their parents, family members, pastors, teachers, or counselors. However, it is important to note that Bill C-6 does not criminalize voluntary conversations regarding sexuality and sexual orientation.
Despite this controversy, Bob Zimmer continues to serve as a Member of Parliament, representing his constituents and engaging in political discourse within the Conservative Party. His dedication to public service and commitment to his community remain at the core of his political career.