Election primer

Okanagan Newspaper Group valley editor James Miller, chats with South Okanagan West-Kootenay candidates, from left, Conservative Helena Konanz, Liberal Connie Denesiuk and New Democrat Richard Cannings.  Green candidate Tara Howse attended by the phone from her home in Rossland, while the People’s Party’s Sean Taylor hadn’t declared yet. The meeting was staged to go over the format and ground rules for The Herald’s candidates’ forum set for Oct. 1 at the Penticton Lakeside Resort.

Canada’s upcoming federal election is all about the environment – and immigration and affordability and health care and values, according to declared candidates in South Okanagan-West Kootenay.

Signs began popping up in the riding only hours after the writ was officially dropped Wednesday.

Richard Cannings, the incumbent New Democrat, had about 40 people out planting signs and waving to motorists on the green space near the Penticton library.

Between fighting climate change, creating jobs and taxing the rich, Cannings said, the NDP’s campaign is also focused on listening to Canadians.

“The NDP is the party that’s really in it for Canadians,” said the Penticton biologist. “We’ve found that the Conservatives and the Liberals, they listen to the big corporations.”

Liberal candidate Connie Denesiuk, a former school trustee, kicked off her campaign in Trail.

The election, for her party, is all about “moving forward.”

“Status quo doesn’t interest me. Status quo isn’t good enough for me,” said Denesiuk. “I’m in it for making lives better for Canadians.”

Green candidate Tara Howse, a Rossland-based social scientist, believes the election will be about values.

“The environmental crisis is real, our democracy is crumbling, and faith in politicians has consistently been declining,” she said in an email.

“I am here to represent the people in this riding that want to have a future for themselves, their children, and grandchildren; that want assurances their interests come before the party in a grassroots approach, not from the top-down.”

Conservative candidate Helena Konanz said she and her team had already knocked on 11,000 doors prior to the election being officially called, and affordability was foremost on people’s minds.

“They’re worried that life has become so expensive, in the last four years in particular,” said the former Penticton city councillor.

 “We want to make sure that we’re accountable for taxpayers’ money.”

Finally, the candidate for the People’s Party of Canada believes the campaign will be fought at least in part on immigration.

“This social experiment we’ve got going on now, I don’t agree with that,” said Sean Taylor, an emergency room nurse in Penticton.

He’s in favour of “smarter immigration,” which would still acknowledge the important role newcomers play in the national economy.

Cannings won the riding, which generally tilted Conservative in the past, with 37% of the popular vote in 2015. The Conservatives under then-candidate Marshall Neufeld were runners-up at 30% and Denesiuk and the Liberals weren’t far back at 28%. Samantha Troy grabbed 4% of the votes for the Greens, while independent Brian Gray collected just shy of 1%.