By Richard McGuire
Special to the Chronicle
Connie Denesiuk, who came within 5,000 votes of winning South Okanagan-West Kootenay (SOWK) for the federal Liberals in 2015, is again seeking her party’s nomination.
Denesiuk said SOWK was one of the first 20 unheld ridings in Canada that the Liberal Party of Canada recently allowed to begin the nomination process by releasing nomination papers. An unheld riding is one where the Liberals don’t currently have an elected MP.
Denesiuk said she’s already submitted her papers, which required her background information, along with 100 signatures from Liberal supporters.
At this point no date has been set for the nomination, said Sandra Curnow, vice president of the SOWK Liberal riding association. The association’s board won’t have a chance to discuss setting a date until its next meeting late in August, she said.
In the Oct. 19, 2015 federal election, NDP candidate Richard Cannings was elected as MP with 24,823 votes, 37.3 per cent of votes cast.
He was followed by Conservative Marshall Neufeld, with 19,871 votes and 29.8 per cent.
Denesiuk was a close third with 18,732 votes, 28.1 per cent. This was a significant improvement over the Liberals’ performance in 2011 in the former riding of B.C. Southern Interior when the party picked up just 3.8 per cent.
“In 2015, we quadrupled our vote share in SOWK while spending far less per vote than either the Conservatives or NDP,” Denesiuk said in a news release Wednesday. “My aim is to build on that success, and I’m gratified to note that I have received both renewed and new support across the riding from Penticton to Nakusp.”
Denesiuk lives in Summerland, which is just outside SOWK. She’s been the administrative partner with her husband in a construction business since 1980.
She served 19 years as a school trustee, and more recently was on the board of Okanagan College for six years, including two as chair.
Denesiuk said she’s used the time since the last election to work towards a Master of Arts degree in leadership at Royal Roads University, which she expects to complete later this year.
When she ran for election in 2015, she had been the nominated candidate for the prior 15 months.
“We have a huge riding and it’s really important to get out to the events throughout the riding,” she said. “[Candidates] need that lead-time to become involved in the community, to introduce themselves to the folks in each of the communities.”
She said the timing of her announcement was both because the party has opened up the process in SOWK and because she would like as much lead-time to get around the riding as possible.