Now that a federal election has been set for May 2 candidates are hitting the trail to get word out to voters.
Currently three candidates will have their name on a ballot in the Kootenay-Columbia district. The NDP association chose former District of Invermere mayor Mark Shmigelsky, former District of Sparwood mayor David Wilks will be running for the Conservative party and Brent Bush has decided to run as an independent. The federal Liberal Party has said that a candidate will be announced but has not been done so at the time of print.
With the waiting over all those running are excited to hit the roads and start campaigning full-time.
“I feel good about it, I think over the last couple of months, have been getting a good response from people. They seem to be engaged and want some change. They want representation that they can be a part of,” Shmigelsky said.
Following in the footsteps of long time member of Parliament Jim Abbott is a challenge Wilks feels he is up to.
“We have a very good election team in place. We have everything set up and we are ready to go.I am very proud to be taking over the legacy of the Honourable Jim Abbott. We will work very hard to ensure that we keep this riding as Conservative,” he said.
As for Bush he recently announced his intention to be a candidate and was very clear why he made this decision.
“I’m running as an Independent because our Party-based political system is failing to represent the people it claims to serve. It’s all about political games and posturing now,” Bush said. “Canadian voters are clearly fed up with what’s going on in Ottawa,” he added.
Wilks will be following the lead of the Conservative Party and focus on jobs and the economy in his campaign.
“Certainly the Prime Minister has echoed that the economy and job creation are front and centre. We will focus our campaign on that. The Prime Minister echoed the concern of a coalition. I completely agree with him on that. I believe that the coalition opposition with regards to their reason for bringing down the government was wrong. I believe we should have focussed on the budget. We should have focussed on making sure Canadians have a strong economy and that there are jobs available for them.”
The focus on the coalition is something that Shmigelsky thinks is silly already.
“I think it is insulting to Canadians’ intelligence that they (the Conservatives) are suggesting you can’t work with people in the next parliament. Obviously Mr. Harper has worked with the Bloc party in the past just like everyone else has. That is what I expect Canadian people to do. Work with their fellow elected officials to run the country,” he said. Shmigelsky went on to add that what happened in Ottawa was “Huge. This is the first time that a government has been found like this. The Prime Minister’s response going into the contempt charges was, you win some you lose some. That’s not leadership. We can all disagree on the issues but we should have the information and be able to debate it.”
As for Bush, he is also looking at what has been happening with the federal Conservatives.
“My campaign has two themes, the first one is political accountability. I want to know why the local Conservative campaign participated in the ‘in and out’ financing scheme during the 2006 election and why Mr. Abbott’s Official Agent failed to appear before a Parliamentary Ethics Committee in 2008. The Conservative Party’s contempt for Parliamentary institutions runs deep,” Bush stated.
Ethics and representing the people are also a key for Shmigelsky. “People who know me know they can come up to me and talk to me. They can have differences of agreement on issues and I am always open to working together on that. The reason why people do not want an election is because they don’t believe that politicians do what they say. My focus is to do what I say,” he said.
As for what they they hope for the future during the election all of the men had their own opinions.
“In my nine years of experience in municipal government and 20 years as a police officer, I have spent the majority of my adult life serving the public and I believe that I can bring this to Ottawa. I believe that I can work with anyone. I am not looking at a coalition opposition in a minority. I am looking at a Conservative majority government,” Wilks said.
Shmigelsky said that he “just hopes that people get involved. They know my history in this area and I hope that they vote. If you are not voting for me that is your choice but take part in the election. I think this is one of the most important elections that this country has faced in a very long time.”
Bush said he is looking forward to talking to the constituents of the riding about what matters most to them. Above all, as an Independent candidate he offers effective representation without the Party politics and games.
“It’s time to send an Independent voice to Ottawa to shake things up,” Bush concluded.