The Conservative Party of Canada has its new candidate for the Okanagan Coquihalla.
Penticton councillor, martial-arts instructor/businessman and former riding president Dan Albas won the nomination Tuesday evening to become the Conservative riding association’s candidate in the next federal election.
Albas replaces long-time MP and cabinet minister Stockwell Day after beating out Day’s former parliamentary assistant Marshall Neufeld and West Kelowna landscaping business owner Russell “Rusty” Ensign in a nomination vote Tuesday evening, 10 days after Day’s unexpected retirement announcement.
“The membership had its say and I am very honoured to step forward as the next conservative flag-bearer in this riding,” said Albas. “Stockwell has done an amazing job and, regardless of political stripe, I think most would agree he has been a fine representative in Ottawa. I want to build on that legacy of strong representation.
“I will work as hard as I can to make sure I find as many ways for people to be connected with the political process and to take their concerns to Ottawa if, and I don’t take anything for granted, that opportunity arises.”
As a first-time councillor Albas made a name for himself as a fiscal conservative on a fiscally conservative council and as a hard-worker, eager to listen to and/or assist residents with their various concerns. At the end of each council meeting, Albas gave out his cell phone number and last year he started a political blog: pentictonpolitics.com.
Penticton Mayor Dan Ashton said despite having “big shoes to fill” in replacing Day, he is confident Albas is up to the challenge.
“Dan has been a hard working councillor. He has taken great care and concern for the citizens of Penticton and I am quite sure he will continue that work ethic and concern for the community forward to federal politics,” said Ashton of the 34-year-old he has described on several occasions as a “political diamond in the ruff.”
“Dan is also a very quick learner. We know that he has had an interests in federal politics for a long time and we know he cares about the community. And what we are hoping is that he will carry on with what Mr. Day did here and that he will continue to represent our area well federally which is important.”
Albas takes over the candidacy as partisan squabbling in Ottawa over the Conservative’s budget and a contempt of Parliament motion against the government seems destined to launch the country into a federal election less than two and a half years since the last one.
As far as when Albas’ new federal political role might lead him to resign as a city councillor, according to Penticton’s bylaws the timing would be up to Albas as he does not have to step down from council in order to serve as an MP. Should he resign, it would be up to the rest of council whether to hold a by-election or just wait until the next provincially-mandated municipal election later this year.
“There has been some discussions but until further notice I’m still a municipal councillor serving the people of Penticton,” said Albas. “Right now, I am just going to take it as it comes.”