As Liberal support wanes, so does Kelowna MP Stephen Fuhr's chances of re-election in Kelowna: professor - InfoNews

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As Liberal support wanes, so does Kelowna MP Stephen Fuhr's chances of re-election in Kelowna: professor

Federal Liberal candidate Stephen Fuhr Monday, Oct. 19, 2015.
June 06, 2019 - 5:30 PM

KELOWNA - Is Kelowna-Lake Country MP Stephen Fuhr’s political future tied to the popularity of the party leader?

Hamish Telford, a political science professor from the University of the Fraser Valley, said it’s hard to say but with just four months remaining until the federal election, it’s becoming clear that B.C. may be a difficult province for the Liberals to navigate.

“These ridings will be tougher for Trudeau to hold,” Telford said. “Polls are showing in parts of B.C. the Liberals are struggling and they are struggling more in the Interior than they are in the Lower Mainland.”

The Liberals won 17 seats in B.C. last time around, which Telford pointed out was far beyond expectation.

They did particularly well in a number of seats that were not traditionally Liberal, like Matsqui and Kelowna-Lake Country.

Only twice in Kelowna’s history has a Liberal MP been elected to this area of the Okanagan.

The first time was when Trudeaumania swept the nation in the 1960s. Kelowna got a one-term Liberal MP who, by the following election, fell out of favour among voters alongside the party leader.

Next was in 2015 when Kelowna-Lake Country MP Stephen Fuhr was elected along with 184 Liberal MPs.

Kelowna’s Conservative leanings are well entrenched.

The first wave of settlers to the valley were from conservative strongholds and they gave way to politically right-wing powerhouses like WAC Bennett and Bill Bennett.

“That history has its legacy with how people are politically socialized,” he said. “The Okanagan also has a lot of retirees and older people are more conservative than younger people.”

That said, nothing is set in stone.

“Elections are like the hockey playoffs — it’s a whole new season,” said Telford. “If you think back to 2013, Christy Clark was mired in controversy, she was behind in the polls and then two months later she won.”

Same went for once Prime Minister Stephen Harper. He was found in contempt of Parliament that brought down his minority government, then went on to win a majority government.

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