PENTICTON - The Conservative candidate for South Okanagan-West Kootenay has seen how helpful a Member of Parliament can be to his constituents, and wants an opportunity to do similar work.
Marshall Neufeld, 34, was born and raised in Penticton. He says his interest in politics dates back to the 1995 Quebec referendum.
“I’ve been interested in politics since then, and just started to get more and more involved,” he says.
Neufeld was in high school in 1999 when selected by the Penticton Branch of the Royal Canadian Legion to lay a wreath at the National War Memorial in Ottawa. There, he met Preston Manning, who led the Reform Party at that time. He then became involved in Stockwell Day’s campaign for leadership in the party in 2000.
Neufeld then moved to Vancouver to attend school to become a recreation therapist, but four years later found himself involved in politics again and relocating back to Penticton.
For the last seven years, he has been a real estate agent in Penticton, in partnership with his father Chuck Neufeld, according to his campaign website.
Neufeld says his motivating factor is to help people.
“I worked the downtown Eastside as a teenager, and that’s why I got into the healthcare field," he says.
“At the time I was doing a lot of volunteer work for Stockwell Day, and I just kept being impressed how you could really, really help people through politics,” he says, adding he had seen from very early in his career an individual MP could have impact on policy discussion.
“I still believe an individual can have a positive impact. That’s why I’m running this time,” he says.
Neufeld feels the issues in the riding are going to be a reflection of those across the country: jobs, taxation and the economy.
"The primary responsibility of any government is the security of its citizens,” he says. “Both through law and order and through those who want to come into our country from overseas and anyone who might want to threaten from within. I believe in all those measures our party stands up very well."
On local issues, Neufeld sees infrastructure and trade as important. he’s knocked on close to 10,000 doors so far in the campaign talking to people about the issues.
He says the next MP in the riding would need to pay attention to the need for improvements at the Penticton and Castlegar airports. He would also continue working to find Asian markets for the regions' fruit growers.
This year’s federal contest will be a close one between the NDP and the Conservatives in the South Okanagan-West Kootenay riding, he says, noting the new riding’s makeup is from a region which was two-thirds NDP and one-third Conservative based on population.
Asked about the potential for the Mike Duffy trial and accompanying senate scandal in Ottawa to be a problem for him, Neufeld says, “I think I’d rather just say I think many Canadians are very disappointed in the actions of Mike Duffy and others who have been caught up in this. I hope justice is done, but the greatest problem I have with the expenditures which have taken place in the senate is there is no way to remove these senators through election."
"If we can’t have a senate which is both elected and equal in its representation, and effective, following the old Reform model, then we should be looking for abolition," he says.
"That’s my personal view, not the party’s view."
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