Opinion

Conservatives drawing, except in Maple Ridge

The B.C. Conservative Party is facing a deluge of potential candidates vying to represent the fledgling party in the provincial election this spring, with the first round of nominees could be named as soon as next month, according Shannon Kewley, co-chair of the Conservatives’ newly-formed candidate recruitment committee.

“We’ve been inundated with interest from nominees,” she said.

“Doctors, lawyers, teachers, business people … we’ve been quite overwhelmed by the quality of candidates.”

However, that hasn’t been the case locally.

Wendy Cook is the vice-president of the Maple Ridge-Pitt Meadows constituency association, and said the local riding has yet to receive any nominations to run under the B.C. Conservative Party banner.

The Maple Ridge-Mission riding is still without a Conservative Party constituency association.

Cook said summer is typically a difficult time to get people interested in politics, but she hopes that will change as the 2013 election nears.

“It’s hard stirring people up this time of year.”

Despite the lack of interest locally, Kewley said the party should have no trouble fielding candidates in all 85 electoral ridings in time for the spring election.

“Both the number and calibre of potential candidates is proving to be a surprise - and a very pleasant one at that,” said Conservative Party leader John Cummins in a release on Friday.

“Given the growing interest and the volume of calls from prospective candidates and their supporters, we’ve decided to speed up the nomination process and expect to complete our first round of nominations by mid-September.”

Currently, the Conservative Party is reviewing the credentials of 50 nominees who will be among the first wave of candidates announced in the coming weeks.

“We’ve been going through the paperwork, doing criminal record searches, and really getting to know the nominees,” said Kewley.

Candidates for the Interior ridings will be announced first, as “that’s where we’ve seen the most interest,” said Kewley.

Kewley attributes the province-wide interest in the Conservative Party to Cummins’ success as party leader.

“John Cummins has increased his public profile, and that has people interested,” she said. Liberal Party leader Christy Clark’s sagging popularity has also resulted in former Liberal voters moving to the Conservatives’ camp, she added.

Kewley said the Conservatives are looking for candidates who are “positive, energetic, and [are] passionate about making a positive change.”

• For more information on how to become a candidate, visit http://www.bcconservative.ca

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