Newsmakers of 2015: Conservative party ousted from Kelowna

Ron Cannan’s Oct. 19 loss at the polls may have been one of the biggest upsets in federal politics this city has seen.

Ron Cannan’s Oct. 19 loss at the polls may have been one of the biggest upsets in federal politics this city has seen.

In addition to the simple fact it’s difficult to find anyone with an unkind word about Cannan, he was running in a region that has been voting in Conservative governments of varying stripes since Pierre Trudeau was prime minister.

For many, his continual re-election was viewed as a reality of Kelowna life.

When he lost to Liberal opponent Stephen Fuhr, however, that reality shifted, and it’s something Cannan has been gracious about.

“From going full speed to having no iPad or Blackberry or anything—that was a real shock to the system…but that’s just democracy,” Cannan said.

“It’s been a privilege and an honour to serve this community (in federal politics) for 10 years, and nine years before that on city council. It’s a fantastic community and I look forward to continue being a part of it.”

For those who have been to any community events in the last month or so, it’s clear he means it.

Whether it’s pouring coffee at the Gospel Mission’s annual Christmas dinner or showing up unexpectedly to sit through some of the city’s budget talks, Cannan is still very much a part of this community.

“My wife and I were talking about this last night,” he said.

“I am not going to stop being who I am. I am part of the community. I appreciate the opportunities I’ve been given to give back.”

And, he sees it leading to new career possibilities.

“I was just chatting with the former mayor Walter Gray and his wife, and we were talking about the federal money that’s available for infrastructure and water,” he said.

The aim has been for something to come about that would see a bit of uniformity in the way Kelowna’s water is managed.

Currently, there are five water purveyors in Kelowna, and they provide water to area residents through varying means.

A provincial call for some cohesion among purveyors has yet to be answered, and Cannan is considering entering the fray as a mediator so forward momentum can be gained.

“The ultimate goal is to come up with the best water provider for Kelowna residents,” he said, noting that a master plan has been discussed for some time.

The elephant in the room is governance, and Cannan believes that he can do the consensus building needed to move forward on that point.

“Water is the most valuable resource, and we need to ensure it’s managed as efficiently as possible so we have a good long-term sustainable supply,” he said, adding that most irrigation districts in the region have a good water management reputation.

In addition to new career opportunities, Cannan said he’s looking forward to seeing deals made in previous years pay off, regardless of who’s the MP.

Among the list of projects he’s awaiting are Highway 97’s widening from Edwards Road to Costco, the John Hindle Drive to Highway 97 and  the downtown Kelowna innovation centre.

“I’m passionate about all these things,” he said.

Although Cannan has stepped out of the federal arena of politics, Conservatives still have an Okanagan presence with the re-election of Dan Albas as MP for the new riding of Central Okanagan-Similkameen-Nicola.