Waters: Kelowna-area candidates finding its not just about who you talk to

While his boss wants a one-on-debate with the NDP leader, Liberal MLA Norm Letnick wants no part of a one-on-one with his Tory challenger.

In elections, it may be about party politics but it’s not always a case of follow the leader.

Seems like what’s good for the boss is not always so good for those working under her. And, in the case of Kelowna-Lake Country MLA Norm Letnick, it could be because he has more to lose.

Last week, Premier Christy Clark tried to get NDP leader Adrian Dix to agree to debate her one-on-one but Dix refused, saying it would not be fair to exclude the leaders of the other parties running in next month’s B.C. election.

A few days later, Kelowna-Lake Country B.C. Conservative candidate Graeme James tried to same tactic on Letnick. This time it was the Liberal who refused.

During elections, every move is political, but Dix and Letnick were right rebuff the one-on-one invitations. They are always a showcase for the challenger and a chance to take the spotlight off others trying to unseat an incumbent. In Clark’s case it’s a desperate move to give her party a bump in the polls.

But while Letnick, who is also B.C.’s agriculture minister, is taking the high road with his refusal to go mano-a-mano with James, there could be more at play here.

He would be loathed to admit it but the fact is he’s running from the front. Incumbents have an inherent advantage in political races despite the fact they carry a target on their backs. Sure, they carry the can for the party they represent—even more so if that’s the party in power and it’s unpopular—but they are also the one who already has the job. And, in Letnick’s case, the one who easily won the riding with a 5,000-vote cushion four years ago, taking 52 per cent of the vote. Unlike his boss, he’s not playing catchup.

Polls have Clark and her party far behind the NDP and Dix knows when it comes to being the next premier of B.C., it’s his race to lose.

If Clark loses, she will still be the leader of her party. If Letnick loses, he’s out of politics. In a way, the stakes are bigger for him.

James wants to challenge Letnick on the issue of agriculture. As minister, Letnick has not impressed his political foe, with James quoted as saying while he respects Letnick, he questions the MLA’s knowledge of the importance of, and urgency facing, agriculture in this province.

“We need a minister who not only understands the issues but is willing to fight for the farmer and orchardist,” James says in his best political rhetoric.

For his part Letnick says he’s willing to debate James, the NDP’s Mike Nuyens and anyone else who joins the Kelowna-Lake Country race— at upcoming all-candidates debates.

So, it seems when it comes to one-on-one debate strategies, what’s good for the goose is not always so good for the gander—at least not among B.C. Liberals.

Alistair Waters is the Capital News’ assistant editor.

 

Just Posted

Kelowna’s strategy to address homelessness making headway says city

More than $830,000 of the $2.7 million needed to get the strategy going has now been raised

Demolish it or we will, City of Kelowna staff tell owners of derelict former motel

Former Ponderosa Motel is unsafe and used by squatters, drug users and the homeless says city

Kelowna firm encourages annual medication reviews for seniors

Accessible way for families to advocate for their elderly parents

Opening a pot shop in Kelowna will be costly

City to charge a total of $10,500 just to apply and get rezoning for a store

Kelowna rapper, Mr. Wisdom addresses the opioid crisis with his music

The musician says he has lost at least 25 of his friends to date

Your morning news in 90: Sept. 25, 2018

Tune in for 90 seconds to get the top headlines for the Okanagan, Shuswap and Similkameen.

Judge weighs Cosby’s sentence after declaring him ‘predator’

Montgomery County Judge Steven O’Neill made the decision as he weighed the punishment for Cosby

U.S. worker charged after video shows him spitting on cusomer’s pizza

Jaylon Kerley of Detroit is charged with a felony count of food law violations

Andrew Weaver congratulates New Brunswick on electing first Green caucus

Election win means there are now three provincial Green Party caucuses in Canada

Around the BCHL: Merritt’s Matthew Kopperud nets Sun Devil scholarship

Around the BCHL is a look at the BCHL and goings-on throughout the junior A world.

Father, 9-year-old son killed in crash along B.C. highway

RCMP say family of five was hit head-on by a pickup truck north of Williams Lake

2 B.C. police departments won’t use new saliva test to detect high drivers

The Dräger DrugTest 5000 is designed to find THC, the high-inducing part of marijuana

Canada aiming for the moon, and beyond, with new space technology efforts

With an eye on future lunar exploration, Canada’s space agency is calling on companies to present their ideas for everything from moon-rover power systems to innovative mineral prospecting techniques.

New Brunswick Premier meets with lieutenant-governor as Tories, Liberals vie for power

New Brunswick Premier Brian Gallant said the only other leader he had spoken with since results came in was Green Leader David Coon.

Most Read