There was a man who walked up to Conservative Leader Andrew Scheer on Monday, July 1, on the boardwalk that lines the perimeter of Okanagan Lake at Waterfront Park. “Can I shake your hand?” the man asked. Scheer replied with a grin and an extended arm, inviting the man in for a firm, political handshake and shared a moment with the presumable Scheer supporter.
Up until this point in the prime minister hopeful’s visit to Kelowna, there was little resistance from opposing political views as the candidate roamed through the Canada Day celebration with a flock of blue-shirted Tracy Gray campaign members and pedestrian supporters.
The crowd’s embrace of Scheer was interrupted, if only momentarily, by a blonde-haired 30-something woman on a bike, accompanied by a tall, six-foot-something man donning multi-coloured sport glasses and a red baseball cap.
“I knew I only had one line to say to him. Do I talk about women’s rights? Do I talk about immigration? Do I talk about climate change?” recalled Courtney Clark, an Ontario native who now works as a teacher in Kelowna. “Then I saw him dressed in blue — on Canada Day. Wear a Canada shirt. There was no pin, no hat, he was dressed in blue from head to toe.”
Scheer responded with a joke about the prominence of the colour blue in his closet and the justness of handing out Canada Day flags in lieu. Scheer’s fashion statement was not Clark’s problem with the candidate, of course. It was more of a tangible representation in which she could articulate her frustration with Scheer’s policies on controversial subjects.
“Blue — probably just like your cold heart on women’s rights issues,” said Clark’s friend Liam Mitchell, a 33-year-old Kelowna small business owner.
The fact that Scheer did not engage suggested that may have been a little too far; instead, a blue-shirt came over to politely discuss the two voters’ complaints with Scheer. The blue-shirt was accommodating: she would take the feedback to her party to discuss ways to better their policies. It was a practical way in which the party said they would listen to the residents of Kelowna.
Religious values is something that often comes up when it comes to Andrew Scheer. Moreover, the effect that might have on legislature if elected. Staunch and respite, Scheer has commonly been documented as evasive when it comes to questions surrounding women’s rights, abortion laws and LGBTQ2+. This of course, is more of a concern to some than for others.
As the crowd moved onward toward the Sails, a few Alberta natives who are relocating to Kelowna sat on a rock ledge opposite the waterfront railing.
“It was nice to see him looking for support here and not being scared to show his face,” Ron Feniak said, in agreement with his company. “I think he could (take the vote).”
“We’re for his bill on the carbon tax,” said a lady who sat nearby, referencing the June 2019 carbon levy abolishment in Alberta. “That’s all I can say about it.”
Carbon tax and small business protection were two subject points most conservative supporters were in favour of.
“Small business owners were being called, ‘tax cheats,’” said Tracy Gray, Kelowna-Lake Country Conservative MP candidate and small business owner. “It was one of the reasons that prompted me to consider running.”
But for the two any-colour-but-blue standouts on the boardwalk on that Monday evening before the Canada Day fireworks, small businesses were not on the agenda and neither was autonomy for carbon-consumers. By no means was this a product of pro-liberal motives, according to the friends.
“I’m not super strong on Trudeau,” Mitchell said. “I feel like he had a great opportunity to do something with the youth vote here in this country. And just like any typical liberal government they blew it all up.”
“One of the things I hear is that Trudeau said a lot of things, but he’s never really good at delivering,” Scheer said. “A lot of people tell me that what they realize about Justin Trudeau is that he’s never quite as advertised. He makes promises during campaigns, he gets the gestures right but he never follows through.”
“The world needs to change,” Mitchell said. “We need someone new.”
“We need someone who gives a s—t about the people and about the environment,” Clark said.