A former mayor of the Village of Pemberton is now running to be
the Conservative Member of Parliament in the Interior riding of Kamloops-Thompson-Cariboo.
Cathy McLeod, who served as Pemberton mayor between 1996 and
1999, was appointed as the candidate in the riding to replace incumbent Betty
Hinton, who had held the seat since 2000.
McLeod’s appointment came as a shock for Kamloops citizens who
had no idea who she was before her candidacy, according to Mel Rothenburger,
former Kamloops mayor and editor of the Kamloops Daily News.
“The local riding association had been dragging its feet in
naming a candidate, long after the NDP, the Liberals and the Greens for that
matter had named their candidates,” he said in an interview.
“The theory was that they were looking for a big name candidate
to replace Hinton, and that they were having trouble finding one, but you know,
in the end, they just left it to the federal party to appoint someone that is
not just a virtual unknown, but an unknown in community circles here.”
While mayor of Pemberton, McLeod spearheaded the construction
of a walking bridge over the Pemberton Canal that connected The Glen
neighbourhood to the rest of town, according to Garth Phare, a Pemberton
resident who served on council with McLeod.
She also worked to develop close relations with Miya Village,
Pemberton’s former sister city in Japan, and initiated plans to develop a wastewater
“I think she was quite instrumental in… trying to create a
better structure within the community as far as development went,” Phare said.
“Of course at that time, Pemberton was still very, very small… there wasn’t
nearly as much on the agenda, as far as new projects, as are happening today.”
Phare said the community has changed immensely since she left,
but McLeod nevertheless played an important role in its future.
“Anytime anybody is sitting on a council, you’re part of the
future,” he said. “I wouldn’t say that she was instrumental in the dynamics of
the change, but certainly was part of what’s happened today.”
McLeod, who also served as a councillor prior to becoming
mayor, left the mayor’s post partway through her term to take up work in
Kamloops. Phare was not certain of where she took up work after leaving
Pemberton, saying only that it was an administrative job.
McLeod’s campaign did not agree to an interview until after the
election is finished.
Now seeking to get involved in national politics, McLeod has
been a registered nurse since 1981 and has “first hand knowledge” of the
importance of basic health care, according to her website. She has also been a
manager in various places including Pemberton, Logan Lake, Chase and the
Kamloops Downtown Health Centre.
She was also a Municipal Provincial team delegate for three
years as part of the In-SHUCK-ch treaty negotiations, an experience that she
said has given her a “more comprehensive understanding” of challenges that
aboriginal communities face.
Her campaign in Kamloops, however, has been an uphill climb
according to Rothenburger.
He said that Roger Barnsley, the former president of Thompson
Rivers University, was also approached to be a candidate before McLeod was
appointed, as was former Whistler resident and Olympic champion Nancy Greene
Raine, who now lives at Sun Peaks Resort.
As for McLeod’s electoral hopes, Rothenburger said the
Conservative brand is very strong in Kamloops-Thompson-Cariboo, but her
candidacy will depend largely on the popularity of Prime Minister Stephen
“The wisdom is that in federal elections, the most important
thing is the leader and the party,” he said. “The candidate is actually a
“So it’s not out of this world to think that McLeod actually
could win, but she is at a disadvantage because she isn’t as well known as the
Rothenburger also noted that McLeod did not return three separate requests for an interview with his paper, though she did agree to one on a local radio station.