Opposition parties preparing for federal election 

Reynolds will seek Conservative nomination in West Vancouver-Sunshine Coast

Prime Minister Paul Martin is yet to call a federal election but several parties and some candidates who aspire to represent Whistler in Ottawa have already started campaigning.

On Jan. 17 th the West Vancouver-Sunshine Coast constituency of the newly formed Conservative Party of Canada held a founding meeting at St David’s United Church in West Vancouver and elected 30 members to a new board of directors.

Last week incumbent MP John Reynolds announced he will seek the Conservative Party nomination in West Vancouver-Sunshine Coast.

And Nicholas Simons, who is the Director of Health and Social Services for the Sechelt Indian Band and a music teacher in Langdale, on the Sunshine Coast, has announced his intention to run for the NDP candidacy in West Vancouver-Sunshine Coast.

It’s expected Martin will call an election this spring.

The Conservative Party’s meeting in West Vancouver was important because it was one of 308 meetings held around Canada at the same time to officially recognize the unification of the Progressive Conservative Party and the Canadian Alliance.

The meeting was hailed by organizers as a fitting "homecoming" for all conservatives in the constituency as the right has experienced a myriad of changes during the past 15 years.

Former Progressive Conservative candidate David Thomas and Reynolds both spoke of a united commitment to parliamentary reform and the justice system.

They also outlined how the party intended to be fiscally conservative, yet socially responsible.

Reynolds, who as a former Progressive Conservative, Reform and Canadian Alliance MP exemplifies the shifting landscape for conservatives, emphasized the vitality the new party has shown across the country.

Thomas has endorsed Reynolds and will act as Reynolds’ financial agent. Thomas added that he will likely seek the Conservative nomination in West Vancouver-Sunshine Coast at some future date.

Thomas singled out the former leader of the Canadian Alliance and conservative stalwart Preston Manning for his vision and influence in Canadian politics during the past decade.

Manning, who is now retired from politics, founded and became the first leader of the Reform Party in 1987. Later he guided his party to its new identity as the Canadian Alliance.

In the election of 1997, still under Manning’s leadership, the Reform Party won 60 seats and became the official Opposition, giving Manning the keys to Stornoway.

This became the party’s high-water mark, despite not electing any MPs east of Manitoba.

Manning resigned as leader of the Opposition to contest the leadership of the Canadian Alliance, but at the national convention in April 2000 he finished second and later chose to retire.

The Conservative Party’s new leader will be chosen between March 19 and 21. The candidates are former Canadian Alliance leader Stephen Harper, CEO of Magna Corporation Belinda Stronach, and former Ontario Minister of Health Tony Clement.

A candidate for the Conservative Party’s West Vancouver-Sunshine Coast riding will also be chosen in March.

Meanwhile, NDP candidate Simons has worked in social services for the Sechelt Indian Band for six years and prior to that he was a child protection social worker in North Vancouver,

The 39-year-old is one of four people seeking to be the NDP candidate in West Vancouver-Sunshine Coast. Simons said that that in itself was a good indication of the NDP’s growing popularity.

"The NDP has had trouble rounding up candidates in this riding before, but this year we have four people running, which will be very interesting," Simons said.

The Liberal party nomination in West Vancouver is also expected to be contested by several candidates.

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