Former city council colleagues Charlie Hodge (front) and Conservative candidate Graeme James (centre) down a pint as the election results roll in at Rusty's Steakhouse.

Kelowna-Lake Country Conservative candidate thankful he got message out

MLAs for the big parties need to start working for their constituents rather than voting along party lines says Graeme James

  • May. 14, 2013 5:00 p.m.

Despite securing only 11 per cent of the vote, Conservative candidate Graeme James was pleased to get his message out on the campaign trail.

Running in Kelowna-Lake Country, he was up against his former city council colleague, Norm Letnick, who easily took the riding for the Liberals with 57 per cent of the vote.

James knew it was an uphill battle for the Conservatives and said he really just wanted to make this point:

“I think candidates, MLAs, should represent their constituents more so than along party lines. I think that’s a lot of what’s wrong with our system here in British Columbia. MLAs don’t represent the people of their constituency enough.”

That said, the Conservative Party will not be representing the people of British Columbia at all according to the preliminary results, which indicate the party failed to secure a single seat.

This did not leave candidates like Westside-Kelowna’s Brian Guillou deterred.

“With the Liberal incumbent, usually they’re pretty tough to beat anyway, especially being a minister and all,” he said, referring to Liberal cabinet minister Ben Stewart. “But it’s been a real good experience this whole campaign and both Ben and Carole Gordon are really, really good people so I enjoyed being with them.”

Guillou too walked away with 11 per cent of the vote in Westside-Kelowna, not nearly enough to unseat Stewart who handily won his job back with 59 per cent of the vote to Gordon’s 30 per cent.

Guillou said he felt the Conservative Party was doing very well until dissidents in White Rock started stirring the pot in October, displeased with the way senior aides were behaving. As many as 24 constituency heads were said to be threatening to resign if the party’s leader, John Cummins, didn’t stop trying to run individuals out of the party. And the group eventually tried to run Cummins out, calling for his resignation.

In the end, the leader stayed on, but the scandal hobbled the party in Guillou’s mind.

“We didn’t seem to regroup after that,” he said. His sentiments are reflected in several mainstream media reports and pundits’ comments that label the campaign an amateur hour affair.

Guillou said he was spurred to action by the HST and its fallout, which sent his fellow tradesman to Alberta as work dried up.

Despite the hubbub on the Coast, he felt the Conservatives made it very easy for him to try his hand at politics for the first time.

“It was a very, very involved nomination process—42 pages—and there was no interference from the party or anybody. It was very, very good,” he said.

While out door-knocking he found most people were on the fence as to how they would vote and said he figured they went back to the two big parties as a result of the confusion.

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