KELOWNA – One of six new ridings in the province, the riding previously known as Okanagan-Coquihalla is now Central Okanagan-Similkameen-Nicola.
It includes a good chunk of Kelowna – including the city’s Mission area – and a huge part of the southern Interior stretching from the U.S border to just south of Kamloops. The reconfigured riding also includes Keremeos, Princeton, Summerland, Peachland, West Kelowna, Merritt and Logan Lake.
There are four candidates running hoping to represent the roughly 105,000 constituents in the riding.
Conservative MP Dan Albas is the incumbent. First elected in 2011, some of his proudest accomplishments include helping to eliminate inter-provincial barriers for the wine industry as well putting measures in place to prevent aquatic invasive species from getting into our lakes. He says if re-elected, the economy will be among his top priorities.
“Working together to increase the quality of life and to make sure families can put food on the table so that people can retire with dignity, that to me are the big issues for this riding,” says Albas.
The Green Party’s Robert Mellalieu is trying to unseat Albas. The longtime Okanagan resident campaigned for the green candidate in the last federal election, but this time he wants to be the representative in Ottawa.
He says he’s learning issues important in the riding, including the controversial topic of bio-solids being trucked from the Okanagan to Merritt. And there are many others he wants to tackle.
“For this valley we have water quality issues,” says Mellalieu. “I’m also a small business owner making sure all that works. We don’t want to be so dependent on the oil industry.”
Liberal candidate Karley Scott has also thrown her hat into the ring. Once a bureaucrat, now a lawyer, the West Kelowna woman says she may not have political experience, but she’s a trained advocate used to standing up for her clients. She says those are the same skills needed in Ottawa to represent constituents. Scott says the environment and economy are among her top priorities.
“We need to grow it in ways that have a positive impact on our environment,” says Scott. “The other thing that would apply to all the communities in this riding is assisting the middle class, empowering and growing the middle class. We know when the middle class is strong, our economy is strong.”
Finally, Angelique Wood is the NDP’s candidate. The Similkameen resident is in full campaign mode, with her signs already scattered throughout the riding. The former regional district director says healthcare, taking care of the senior population, and climate change are key priorities.
“Climate change, we need to make some changes right away to actually combat what we all see is a slow moving glacier coming towards us,” says Wood.
“So one of the first things the NDP promises to do is cut massive subsidies to oil industries and redirect that money to other priorities.”
The federal election takes place October 19.