Ensign joins hunt to succeed Day as Tory MP

A well-known West Kelowna resident is among a handful of political hopefuls vying for the seat that will be left open when Conservative MP Stockwell Day steps down.

Rusty Ensign announced Friday that he submitted the requisite paperwork and is expecting to be counted among the candidates for the Okanagan-Coquihalla riding when party members gather to vote in Penticton and Merritt next Tuesday.

“I have a good background in business and public service, and I can get results,” he said, pointing out that he first joined the Westbank Kinsmen Club in 1987, and has participated in various volunteer organizations ever since.

In that time his business, Ensign Bros. Sand and Gravel Ltd., has also bloomed from startup to staple, but longevity hasn’t necessarily prompted fanfare. Ensign admits that his controversial dealings with gravel pits likely came at a cost to him during the last civic election, in which he failed to get a seat.

“It impacted me negatively on a municipal level, but dealing with bureaucracy, getting approvals and cutting costs will be invaluable experience to bring to a national level,” he said.

Ensign is the only candidate to come forward from the West Kelowna side of Day’s riding, and he said it was tough to get all his ducks in a row fast enough to be a contender.

The truncated timeline— there’s only 11 days from when Day announced his imminent departure from politics to the date a new candidate will be chosen— is something Ensign feels could have eliminated other good candidates from the pool. He’s also curious how others were able to get out of the gate so quickly, announcing their intent to run for office a day after Day announced he’ll step down.

So far Jason Cox, Marshall Neufeld and Dan Albas, all from Penticton, are the others to publicly announce their candidacy.