Kelowna-Lake Country Conservatives will pick their candidate for the upcoming federal election tonight.
Former Kelowna city councillor Tracy Gray and Troika Development’s CEO Renee Wasylyk are vying for the nomination and, according to the party’s electoral district association president, both women have helped grow party membership numbers considerably the capaign.
Ernie Webber said heading into Saturday’s nomination vote, his riding association has the largest number of members it has had “in several elections.”
Webber wouldn’t reveal the exact number of members currently on the books but said he is expecting “thousands” to turn out to vote Saturday.
Unlike past Tory nomination meetings in the riding—the last contested one was in 2005 when Ron Cannan won the nomination—Saturday’s vote will not feature a traditional convention-style gathering. It will simple be a day of voting.
Webber said the two candidates will have a brief opportunity to address those on hand around 10 a.m.. The candidates addresses and voting at the Ramada Hotel in Kelowna will only be open to party members. The announcement of a winner is expected to be made around 7 p.m. and the media will be allowed in for the announcement, said Webber.
To be eligible to vote, a person must have been a Conservative Party member in Kelowna-Lake Country on, or before, March 9.
No campaigning will be allowed inside the voting room or immediately outside the doors of the hotel, said Webber.
The federal Conservatives held the riding prior to 2015, when Liberal Stephen Fuhr defeated three-term Cannan, a three-term incumbent at the time. Fuhr was the first Liberal elected in the riding in 45 years.
Webber said he was impressed with how many doors Wasylyk and Gray knocked on during nearly a year of campaigning and with the number of new party members both women signed up.
Wasylyk and Gray did not debate each at any point during the nomination campaign and last-minute attempts, first by the riding association and then by Wasylyk, failed.
Webber said the riding association dropped its plans to hold a forum because both candidates were given updated Kelowna-Lake Country party membership lists before the riding association got them so it was felt the candidates could contact members directly.
Wasylyk then announced she would organize a forum and invited Gray but Gray declined, saying she believed the forum contravened Elections Canada rules, something Wasylyk denied.
The next federal election is slated for October, and the winner of the Conservative nomination in the riding will challenge Fuhr in the election. The NDP in the riding has yet to nominate candidate.
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