Varelis was born on the island Corfu, Greece, and moved to Canada in October 26th, 1968. He worked as an accountant in private life, and first ran for the Canadian House of Commons in a 1978 by-election, in the Toronto riding of Broadview. He won the Liberal nomination with 57% over former candidate Lou Yankou, following an acrimonious nomination meeting that divided the local party organization. Valeris, who was forty-one years old at the time, argued that the country's financial situation was better than it appeared from media reports. He ran what the Toronto Star described as an "old-fashioned Liberal ethnic campaign", arguing that "only an immigrant can understand the problems of an immigrant". He finished third against Bob Rae, who was then a member of the New Democratic Party.
Varelis lost to Rae again in the 1979 general election. During this campaign, he indicated his support for the restoration of capital punishment. He planned to run a third time in 1980, but was persuaded to stand aside in favour of Philip Deane Gigantes. By way of a compromise, Varelis became Deane Gigantes's campaign chairman.
^Julia Turner and Michael Moore, "Lone voice shouts at PM to quit during talk at Rosedale school", Globe and Mail, 7 October 1978, P4.
^David Humphreys, "Rivals are bullish about prospects", Globe and Mail, 13 September 1978, P8.
^"Liberals nominate accountant", Toronto Star, 11 April 1978, A4. The Star report indicates that Varelis won 57% of the roughly 2,000 votes cast. See also Elaine Carey, "October 16 campaign gives Metro mini-election fever", Toronto Star, 20 September 1978, A31, which indicates that Varelis won by the nomination by "signing up a lot of new members".
^Mary Trueman, "NDP fights right-wing mood to keep Broadview", Globe and Mail, 11 October 1978, P8.
^Daniel Stoffman, "The chic, the right, the ethnic battle for Broadview prize", Toronto Star, 7 October 1978, C4.
^"Attention all concerned citizens of Canada!" [advertisement], Toronto Star, 19 May 1979, A14.
^Hugh Winsor, "Backroom Diary", Globe and Mail, 24 January 1980, P9.