KELOWNA - The battle to unseat a Conservative party member of Parliament in Kelowna has begun with a tag-team match between the Green party and Liberal candidates.
Gary Adams won the Green nomination in Kelowna-Lake Country on Thursday, only to announce he planned to resign as part of a co-nomination process with his Liberal opponent.
“Our common goals on climate change, restoring our democracy and diversifying our economy have been dramatically undermined in the last 10 years under (Prime Minister Stephen) Harper,” Adams said in a news release.
Now, Stephen Fuhr will represent both the Greens and the Liberals to unite centre-left voters and beat incumbent Conservative MP Ron Cannan.
“We both want to see democratic reform, a transition to a more energy efficient and low-carbon emissions economy and a return to governing with evidence-based policy,” Fuhr said. “None of that is going to happen if Harper stays in power.”
Alan Monk and Gary Blidook were also Green candidates for the Kelowna-Lake Country riding. Blidook said he wouldn't co-operate with the Liberals.
“The election is still three months away and that is plenty of time for things to change on the political scene,” he said in a letter to the editor of the Kelowna Daily Courier. “There will be no throwing in of the towel to join up with the Liberals or anyone else.”
Liberal and Green party representatives in Kelowna said in the release that they hope their grassroots efforts at inter-party co-operation will inspire other riding associations to do the same.
Dan Ryder, the Green party member who proposed the co-operation idea locally said, "It's Green party policy to co-operate with other parties, but implementing that is easier said than done. But our efforts here show that it is possible.”
Fuhr's team said they welcomed the proposal to co-operate with local Greens when approached with the idea several months ago.
Now, Fuhr has committed to a partnership that would incorporate key planks of the Green platform in both his campaign and his activities in parliament.
As the MP for Kelowna-Lake Country, he would work with both Liberal Leader Justin Trudeau and Green Leader Elizabeth May, as well as with both parties' local riding associations.
Fuhr's intention to co-operate had been given the go-ahead from the Liberal leadership prior to the local Green vote on the issue, and the partnership details will now go forward to the national Green party office for approval.
The national office has been following the local process, according to a release from the Liberal party.
May's position has been that she would support the decision reached by the local Green riding association, the Liberal riding association in Kelowna said.
Both parties to the co-operation agreement point out that it does not constitute Green support for the Liberal platform, or Liberal support for the Green platform.
Instead, they say, its purpose is to achieve the common goals that Fuhr and Green party members share.
The new low-whipping policy from the Liberals — there will be more free votes — gives Fuhr flexibility to support Green policies, he says.
“In case of platform conflicts, I’ll often be in a position to consult both my Liberal and Green partners, receive input from my constituency, and come to an evidence-based decision," Fuhr said.
The NDP in Kelowna have already rejected the idea. They are represented by Okanagan College Prof. Norah Bowman.