Why the Wasylyk vs. Gray vote could be the most important vote for Kelowna-Lake Country - InfoNews

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Why the Wasylyk vs. Gray vote could be the most important vote for Kelowna-Lake Country

Renee Wasylyk (left) and Tracy Gray are vying to be the next MP for Kelowna-Lake Country.
Image Credit: SUBMITTED
March 21, 2019 - 6:00 PM

KELOWNA - If you're wondering why all the hubbub about Tracy Gray and Renee Wasylyk vying to be the Conservative Party candidate for Kelowna-Lake Country, there's a couple of reasons. First, because such a public battle for this position is rare among any party and also because Conservative Party members are likely deciding who will be the Member of Parliament. 

Current Liberal MP Stephen Fuhr will be sure to have something to say about that, but Fuhr is the only candidate in the last 30 years to hold the seat who wasn't the farthest-right among mainstream party candidates on the ballot (Progressive Conservative, Reform, Alliance, Conservative). 

If that history repeats itself — would you bet against it? — that means this is the real vote that matters. 

Wasylyk, a local developer without any political experience, declared her intention to run for the nomination last August, followed by Gray in September. Gray is a business person and was a one-term Kelowna city councillor when she announced her intention to run.

Their job was to sign up as many party members — and personal supporters — as possible before the cutoff date of March 9. On Feb. 21, Wasylyk said there were about 1,400 Conservative Party of Canada members in the riding, a figure has not been confirmed by the riding association.

Those people will very likely choose the next MP on April 6. 

Usually, these races are held behind closed doors so the party can show unanimous support for one candidate. But this nomination vote looks more like a leadership race with two strong, high profile candidates each claiming the support and endorsement of party leader Andrew Scheer.

Both candidates have made public speeches to local groups, spoken to local reporters and been active on social media. Wasylyk raised the intensity again this week by challenging Gray to a public debate — not a party debate.

Again, this rarely happens among any party, but particularly among Conservatives in this riding — mostly because they were returning incumbents. 

Once the Conservative candidate is selected, the race will be on to unseat Fuhr.

While the official campaign likely won’t start until closer to the Oct. 21 Election Day, high-profile Liberal MPs are already making visits to the riding, including Minister of Public Safety Ralph Goodale last week and Finance Minister Bill Morneau next week.


KELOWNA MEMBERS OF PARLIAMENT OVER THE LAST 30 YEARS
(The Kelowna-Lake Country riding was formerly called Kelowna, and before that was part of the Okanagan Centre riding)

1988-1993 Al Horning (Progressive Conservative)
1993-2006 Werner Schmidt (Reform, Canadian Alliance, Conservative)
2006-2015 Ron Cannan (Conservative)
2015-2019 Stephen Fuhr (Liberal)


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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