Conservative leader Andrew Scheer speaking to a crowd during one of his stops on a visit to the Okanagan this week. Submitted photo

Neufeld re-seeking Conservative candidacy for 2019

Marshall Neufeld lost to the NDP’s Richard Cannings for South Okanagan—West Kootenay in 2015

The next federal election isn’t for another year-and-a-half, but the Conservative Party candidate from 2015 says he will be taking a stab at running again.

“If the Conservative Party membership chooses to endorse me, I would be happy to be the representative again, going into the next election,” Marshall Neufeld said.

Neufeld isn’t the only one weighing in on the issue. Three former leadership candidates have been challenged in their own riding, already. Brad Trost failed to win candidacy in his riding, while Kellie Leitch said she would not be running again. Deepak Obhrai’s riding has not yet held its Conservative candidacy race.

Related: Andrew Scheer talks NAFTA, cabinet shuffle at Naramata event

Marshall Neufeld took second place for the Conservatives in the 2015 election in the newly created South Okanagan-West Kootenay riding. NDP candidate Richard Cannings took the riding with 24,823 votes (37.3 per cent of the popular vote) a hair over half of the votes after losing in a previous provincial election.

Meanwhile, Neufeld left the October 2015 election with 29.8 per cent of the votes (19,871). The Liberal candidate, Connie Denesiuk, finished with 28.1 per cent (18,732) and the Green Party candidate, Samantha Troy, received 2,792 votes (4.2 per cent). Independent candidate Brian Grey received 376 votes (0.6 per cent).

But this time, Neufeld said he feels he can take the riding for the party, saying he would be seeking the candidacy for the party.

Related: Cannings ready to take another shot at election (2014)

“I don’t have anything against Dick (Cannings) personally, at all, however his voting record on issues that are important to Canadians and the track record of his party is not one that I choose to support,” he said.

He noted he has been involved in politics for a long time, largely as a volunteer, which he said could give him an upper edge. He added that he has a long background in business, working in real estate in Penticton for 10 years.

And that, he said, was his major issue: local business.

“There’s been an assault on small business that has been taking place over this last year. Particularly by the federal government, but both levels of government,” he said, referring to new small business taxes federally and the payroll tax for health care provincially.

Related: Cannings reflects on a productive year

The comments came following a Western News one-on-one interview with Conservative leader Andrew Scheer outside Bad Tattoo, where he had met with Osoyoos Indian Band Chief Clarence Louie.

“I’m heartened that he has such a strong desire to see this riding become Conservative again and that he wants to hear about our issues,” Neufeld said.

Scheer, himself, said he was confident Conservatives would be able to take the riding for its second election.

“I’ve heard a lot today of the disappointment that the NDP supported the Liberal attacks on small business. This whole area is full of entrepreneurs. Many, many people here have jobs thanks to local businesses,” Scheer said. “A lot of people told me that they voted NDP last time and watching them vote with the Liberals on this very important issue, they’re coming back to the Conservative Party.”

Related: Rookie MP reflects on his first year in office

Taking the riding may not be so easy, though. Prior to its forming, the area included the Okanagan—Coquihalla and British Columbia Southern Interior ridings, the former a more urban riding and the latter a rural riding.

And while the urban riding, which included Penticton, kept Conservative, Alliance and Reform members of Parliament for about two decades, the rural riding has a long history with the NDP.

No date has yet been set for the candidacy race in Penticton.

Find our one-on-one interview with Conservative leader Andrew Scheer on our website, www.pentictonwesternnews.com.

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