With a federal election on the horizon, three candidates are confirmed, one remains unnamed and, at this point, no independents have come forward in the South Okanagan-West Kootenay riding.
Liberal candidate Connie Denesiuk made the rounds in Trail last week, scouting for an office location and knocking on doors as she makes her second run for the party.
With 28 per cent of the votes four years ago, Denesiuk came in third, finishing behind current NDP MP Richard Cannings and former Conservative candidate Marshall Neufeld.
But she’s more than ready to get back in the game after her campaign gained 21 percentage points for the Liberals, compared to results from the previous federal election (2011).
“The purpose of my visit was to speak with people in the region, to find out what issues are important to them and also to get a sense of how I might serve as their advocate if I am elected,” Denesiuk told the Rossland News.
“It’s such a large riding and it’s really important to me that all voices are heard. So my plan is to open an office in Penticton and a second office in Trail. I really feel that Trail is the hub of so much activity, there’s so much potential here in terms of growth, and I want to be part of that.”
The Summerland resident has worked in education for decades, and has been elected to the Okanagan-Skaha school board and served two terms as chair of the Okanagan College board. Most recently, Denesiuk has been working towards completing a masters degree in leadership studies with Royal Roads University.
“The potential here in the West Kootenay is incredible, because of the innovation and things that are happening with i4C, Fenix, Metal Tech Alley, Teck, and Celgar, as well many other innovative businesses,” she said.
“I feel that the Lower Columbia region is on the cusp of exciting new growth. I heard from the Chamber of Commerce and others, a hope to pursue the possibility of what is being referred to as the ‘north-south’ highway, and how federal infrastructure funds would potentially be accessed.”
As well, Denesiuk recalled hearing a few common themes on the doorstep.
“I heard that people wanted to move on from the SNC Lavalin controversy, and to focus on issues such as resource development, mental health support, affordable housing, accessible post secondary education and support for seniors,” she said.
“And, unfortunately, there are some people … that [said] they are fed up with politicians and all parties, so they are not even going to vote. That was very discouraging to me, and that is something I am hoping to turn around.”
While Denesiuk was touring the city and planning to set up shop this summer, New Democrat MP Richard Cannings was in transit from Ottawa making his way back to the Okanagan.
Cannings confirmed that he is taking a second run in the 43rd federal election, slated for October.
“I chose to run again because I think I can still provide a valuable voice in Parliament, the voice of an environmental scientist,” Cannings replied via email. “There are very few, if any, MPs with my background and experience.
“And I love the job — that’s important because it’s a challenging and intense job that takes a lot of energy to do well,” he said.
“I also feel that it takes MPs a couple of years to really learn most of the arcane ways MPs can influence what goes on in Parliament, and I’d like to take that experience into a second term.”
As the critic for natural resources, Cannings says he’s been working with colleagues to develop a solid strategy for the future of energy in Canada.
“We need a strategy that will (meet) our climate action obligations and, at the same time, create new good jobs in the clean energy and clean tech sectors,” Cannings explained.
“I think the government has talked a good line on this but has utterly failed when it comes to implementation. A bold strategy is not only possible but it is essential.”
In addition to Denesiuk and Cannings, the Conservative Party also has a candidate on the trail.
Helena Konanz was confirmed as the party’s candidate for the South Okanagan-West Kootenay riding last fall.
“I am extremely excited to be the Conservative candidate for this riding,” she told Penticton Western News following her announcement.
“During the next few months, I plan to meet with citizens across the South Okanagan-West Kootenay to better understand their needs and concerns, and bring my knowledge and experience from my time spent in municipal government and the private sector to serve all residents in this riding.”
Konanz, a former Penticton city councillor, has a master’s degree in political science. She runs Konanz Chiropractic in Penticton with her husband Adam. Promoting business throughout the region has been a focus of her time in office.
As far as a Green Party candidate, one will be named at a later date.
“The Green Party will indeed run a candidate here in our district,” confirmed spokewoman Samantha Troy, who was the local candidate in the 2015 election. “We will not likely name that candidate until early summer. Should an earlier election be called, we are also prepared. Our candidate will be a local of our electoral district.”