Election 2019: Can anyone unseat Conservatives in Central Okanagan-Similkameen-Nicola? | iNFOnews | Thompson-Okanagan's News Source

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Election 2019: Can anyone unseat Conservatives in Central Okanagan-Similkameen-Nicola?

Image Credit: SUBMITTED
September 13, 2019 - 11:00 AM

KELOWNA - You'll find all of our election coverage for this riding in one post — this one. There will be stories, plenty of them. But we want you to have one space to come for background information and changes as they roll out. We also want you to tell us when you have questions you want to be answered. Leave them on this post and we will offer them to our candidates as the campaign rolls out.

This is a diverse riding that includes farming, ranching and logging as key economic drivers for the rural areas in the Nicola Valley and South Okanagan.

But the vast majority of the voting population is clustered around the W.R. Bennett Bridge joining Kelowna and West Kelowna.

Plus, in 2015, the first election in which this riding existed, it was a very tight race between the Conservatives and Liberals, with the NDP bringing in a significant percentage of the vote.

With the national fortunes of the NDP seemingly sagging, where those votes go could determine the outcome.

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So, too, will the People’s Party of Canada. If they make a strong showing in the riding, that could pull enough votes away from Conservative incumbent Dan Albas to open the door to one of the other parties.

But, what may dictate the local outcome, may not have anything to do with local issues or the men and women who are vying to represent the region, Maxime Heroux-Legault, an assistant professor of economics, philosophy and political science with UBC’s Okanagan campus said.

Research, he said,  indicates that local candidates aren’t really the focus when people cast a ballot in the federal election.

“They’re a minor part of the voting decision,” he said. “There are local considerations,  like province — people from B.C. vote differently than people from Alberta who vote differently than people from Ontario.  But leader evaluations are the most important.”

Voters will decide on whether they think the Prime Minister is honest and competent and whether policies align with their values and that will influence their decision.

Central Okanagan – Similkameen - Nicola is a new riding that was created during the 2012 federal electoral boundaries redistribution and was first contested in the 2015 election.

The riding is made up of pieces of Okanagan—Coquihalla (66 per cent), Kelowna—Lake Country (25 per cent) and British Columbia Southern Interior (10 per cent).

The Okanagan-Coquihalla riding dates back to 1997 when it was held by Jim Hart for the Reform Party. Stockwell Day took over as the MP in 2000 for the Canadian Alliance Party.

In 2011, Dan Albas won the riding for the Conservatives with almost 54 per cent of the vote.

Kelowna-Lake Country made up the second largest part of the new riding. Residents in the old riding also voted strongly Reform, Alliance and Conservative, electing MPs like Werner Schmidt and Ron Cannan before Liberal Stephen Fuhr staged an upset in 2016 and defeated Cannan.

Despite that strong conservative background, when the new riding was first contested in 2015, Albas won it by a fairly narrow margin, pulling in 39.6 per cent of the votes (24,517), just ahead of Liberal Karley Scott at 37.2 per cent (23,059). The NDP’s Angelique Wood got 19.3 per cent of the votes (11,961) for third place.

Albas is facing new challengers this year with Mary Ann Murphy taking him on for the Liberals and Joan Phillip for the NDP.

The only other repeat candidate from 2015 is Robert Mallalieu for the Greens who finished fourth out of four candidates with 3.9 per cent of the votes (2,436) in 2015.

There will be six people running this year as Allan Duncan is representing the People’s Party and Brynn Jones the Marijuana Party.

The map and full description are included below but, basically, the riding stretches from the U.S. border to Logan Lake, from Princeton to a small slice of downtown Kelowna.

It also included Keremeos, Summerland, Peachland, West Kelowna, Merritt and a number of “Indian Reserves.”

Image Credit: Stats Canada

Statistics Canada says the riding had 110,293 people as of the 2016 census and about 84,000 eligible voters.

According to that census, about 30 per cent (32,655) of those lived in West Kelowna and another 22 per cent (24,511) lived in the other incorporated cities as follows: Summerland (8,742), Merritt (5,321), Peachland (4,698), Princeton (2,828), Keremeos (1,714), Logan Lake (1,208).

There are about 20,000 Kelowna residents in the riding (18 per cent), Albas said.

Another 9,000 (eight per cent) people live on Westbank First Nation land.

From an ethnic perspective, it’s not very diversified, with 82 per cent being European backgrounds, 10.2 per cent Aboriginal then a sharp drop-off to 1.6% South Asian followed by small pockets of other ethnicities.

More details from Stats Canada can be found here.

Homelessness and crime have been huge issues, especially in downtown Kelowna and West Kelowna. This riding is south of Highway 97 which means it’s only a couple of blocks away from the city’s two emergency shelters.

While this has been an issue plaguing city politicians, look for the pressure to be put on these federal candidates to see what they will do to help with things like affordable housing.

The downturn in the forest industry – largely a provincial issue - has mostly missed West Kelowna as Gorman Bros. Lumber has adjusted with minimal disruptions. But Merritt has been hit by closures and Tolko, in Kelowna, has cut shifts. Some of those workers may live in the riding.

Look for candidates to be asked what they can do to help, especially smaller communities, to adjust.

Forest fires, flooding and water quality are always issues but, top of mind for many of the voters bordering Okanagan Lake may be a request to the federal government to enshrine rototilling of invasive Eurasian Milfoil permanently into the Federal Fisheries Act.



Dan Albas, incumbent Conservative MP for Central Okanagan-Similkameen-Nicola
Dan Albas, incumbent Conservative MP for Central Okanagan-Similkameen-Nicola
Image Credit: SUBMITTED/Dan Albas

Before entering public life, Albas was the owner of Kick City Martial Arts in Penticton where, according to his Facebook page, he was “responsible for training hundreds of men, women and youth to bring out their best.”

In 2008 he topped the polls when he ran for Penticton city council.

Three years later, in the spring of 2011, Albas won the nomination to replace Stockwell Day in the Okanagan-Coquihalla riding. Day had resigned unexpectedly and the nomination deadline was just six days later so there was some contention that the process was rigged. Albas went on to easily win the federal election later that year then was elected to the reconfigured riding in 2015.

He’s “consistently recognized as one of Canada’s top ten most active Members of Parliament on Twitter,” according to his Facebook page,

He is the Shadow Minister of Innovation, Science & Economic Development and sits on the Standing Committee on Industry, Science, and Technology.


Mary Ann Murphy is challenging for the Liberals
Mary Ann Murphy is challenging for the Liberals
Image Credit: SUBMITTED/teammurphy.ca

A West Kelowna resident, Murphy is an Associate Professor of Social Work and Sociology at UBCO in Kelowna.

She has a doctorate in Health and Social Policy and, according to her web page she “has worked in private industry, government, and academia with a variety of populations (children, youth, families and seniors) and stakeholders (businesses, not-for-profits, NGOs).”

She worked at the United Nations in Vienna as a doctoral student and spent 10 years working for consulting firms on “social research, strategic and urban planning, and community/new town development.”

She won the Liberal Party nomination by acclamation.


Joan Phillip, NDP
Joan Phillip, NDP

Phillip serves as lands manager and as a councillor for Penticton Indian Band.

She and husband Grand Chief Stewart Phillip received the Eugene Rogers Environmental Award in 2017 for their commitment to defending lands, waters, and the environment, according to her web page.

Phillip was elected to band council in a 2017 by-election that was called after five councillors resigned following the regular election in 2016. The by-election has been challenged in court.

She was acclaimed in the race for the NDP nomination.


Robert Mellalieu, Green Party.
Robert Mellalieu, Green Party.

Mellalieu owns F1 Computer Services in West Kelowna, which he started in 1993 and he has taught computer courses at Okanagan College and UBC, according to his web site.

He’s a member of a number of community groups, including Rotary, Toastmasters, Big Brothers, Freedom's Door and the Antique and Classic Boat Society

He ran in the riding for the Greens in 2015, finishing fourth out of four candidates. He was acclaimed to the party’s nomination this time around.


Allan Duncan, People's Party
Allan Duncan, People's Party

There is no web site set up for Duncan, just Facebook and Twitter that have very little background information about him. He did not respond to Facebook messages.

His Facebook page says he has been a small business owner since June 2019, studied at Providence University College and Theological Seminary and lives in Kelowna.

His camaign brochure adds nothing further to his background details, other that to say he lives in Kelowna.


Brynn Jones, Marijuana Party
Brynn Jones, Marijuana Party

In 2014 Jones and two others (Jason Weber and Darrin Fiddler) founded Mariceuticals Hemp & Cannabis Corporation “seeking a way to protect a strong cannabis culture and study cannabis as a medicine,” according to Mariceuticals’ web page.

Jones is listed as CEO and Chairman of the Board.

A Brynn Jones Cannabis website says his home city is Kelowna.

His Facebook page lists his election platform, which includes non-marijuana concerns such as “Support the safety of our troops,” “Abolish federal income tax,” and “Investing in renewable energy and utilizing hidden technologies.”

To contact a reporter for this story, email Rob Munro or call 250-808-0143 or email the editor. You can also submit photos, videos or news tips to the newsroom and be entered to win a monthly prize draw.

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