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Would-be federal Liberal candidate Denesiuk is disillusioned ex-Tory
The first federal Liberal to step forward for the party’s nomination in South Okanagan West Kootenay (SOWK) is actually a disillusioned Conservative.
Connie Denesiuk, of Summerland, announced Monday that she plans to seek the nomination, although no date for a nomination meeting has yet been set.
The 19-year Okanagan Skaha School District trustee, who chaired the board for nine years, acknowledges that her Summerland home is just outside the SOWK boundary.
The new SOWK federal electoral district will replace much of the present district of B.C. Southern Interior, which is currently represented by MP Alex Atamanenko of the NDP.
Atamanenko is not running in the next election after announcing several months ago he would be retiring, but until now only Conservatives and New Democrats have been putting their names forward to replace him.
Denesiuk said several issues made her become disillusioned with the Conservatives, whom she previously supported.
First, the “robocall scandal” and the Conservatives’ lack of concern about it disturbed her. Although there has not been any finding of guilt, a Conservative database was used to send recorded telephone messages to people identified as non-Conservatives.
The messages, which were made to appear they came from Elections Canada, directed non-Conservatives to the wrong places to vote in close electoral races.
The omnibus budget bill that the Conservatives used to pass many non-budget items into law without debate also concerned her.
“The omnibus bill was over 400 pages and contained so many varied issues that should have been debated individually,” Denesiuk said. “They were grouped together to shove them through.”
She’s also concerned about the environment, especially the Northern Gateway pipeline proposal, and she believes the Conservatives don’t share her environmental concerns.
About 10 months ago, Denesiuk communicated with the federal Liberals to question them on a number of issues.
“We were really aligned in our thinking, so I felt that at that point I belonged,” she said.
The party approached her in its search for candidates, she said.
Although no other Liberal candidates have yet announced an interest in the nomination, Denesiuk said she expects and hopes that it will be contested.
She and her husband Bob have partnered in a construction business since 1980 and much of their business is in SOWK, she said.
She currently serves as vice chair of the Okanagan College Board of Governors, chair of the Trail of the Okanagans steering committee, director for the Summerland Chamber of Commerce and Summerland Credit Union and leadership board of Summerland Baptist Church.
Prior to the 2013 provincial election, she sought the B.C. Liberal nomination in Penticton, coming second to Dan Ashton, who went on to win the election.