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Westside riding seeks successor to retiring Conservative MP

Dan Albas is running for the Conservative Party in Okanagan-Coquihalla.

Albas was named the Conservative candidate late last month just days after long-time Tory MP Stockwell Day announced he would not seek re-election after 11 years in the job. In the last election, Day received 58 per cent of the vote.

Albas, who beat out West Kelowna’s Rusty Ensign for the nomination, is a Penticton city councillor and businessman who was endorsed by former federal Conservative MPs Fred King and Tom Siddon.

Albas is married with three young children.

A recipient of Penticton’s Young Entrepreneur of the Year Award in 2005, Albas has twice led the South Okanagan-Similkameen United Way annual fundraising campaign to surpass its goals.

In 2008, he topped the municipal election poll when he ran for council as a political rookie.

On council, he focused on public safety and fiscal issues, proposing  bylaws to prohibit aggressive panhandling and dog control and urged council to focus on core services and eliminate what he considers wasteful spending in order to help the city balance its books.

If elected MP, he says he will focus on service to his constituents and work with provincial and municipal leaders to fund necessary infrastructure in the riding

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John Kidder relocated to the South Okanagan upon being bitten by a political bug that had been buzzing around him for decades.

The Liberal nominee for the Okanagan-Coquihalla riding, by chance, walked into the National Winter Caucus meeting for the Liberals in Ottawa last January, and heard his old classmate Michael Ignatieff speaking.

It was at that point 45 years of contemplating entering the political arena came to an end and he took on the challenge.

“I don’t have family responsibilities, my children are well launched and now I can take on greater responsibility,” said the entrepreneur who has done everything from studying agriculture and working on ranches to building software and technology businesses.

While the time may be right for Kidder—brother of actor Margot Kidder—he admits there’s a tough slog ahead of him.

“For me to win this election I have to appeal to the existing voter base, and those who haven’t voted before,” he said.

“This includes all the conservatives who are progressive, Green Party supporters who want a candidate who can take action and it includes people who voted for the NDP who want to see socially progressive policies in government, not just the opposition.”

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This is the second federal campaign for Dan Bouchard of Penticton, who is running for the Green Party in the Okanagan-Coquihalla riding.

He’d like to dispel the image people have of the Green Party that it doesn’t support resource-based industries.

“That couldn’t be further from the truth,” he said.

In fact, he works in the forest industry as a lumber broker, and he’s confident eventually public perception of the Green Party will better reflect the party’s policies.

While he was less hopeful during his last campaign in this riding for the Greens, with cabinet minister Stockwell Day running for re-election, this time he feels they’re at a turning point, and says it’s time to win and get some Greens in the House of Commons.

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The NDP candidate in Okanagan-Coquihalla is David Finnis.

A three-term Summerland municipal councillor who has worked for the Okanagan Regional Library in Westbank for the last 11 years,  Finnis was acclaimed as the NDP candidate in March.

He said he decided to run because of concerns about what he considerd the  scandals surrounding the Harper Conservative government, including being found guilty of contempt of parliament.

With long-time Tory MP Stockwell Day not running again, Finnis is confident the NDP can take back a riding it last held in the early 1990s.

While issues such as the economy, climate change and government spending are important to him, he says so too are healthcare and support for seniors.

A volunteer with several social service organization in the south Okanagan, Finnis is married to a community nurse who works in senior’s mental heath care. He is a board member of the Summerland Arts Council and active with the Summerland United Church.

Capital News staff reporters

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