After three months of searching, the West Vancouver-Sunshine Coast-Sea to Sky Country Liberal Riding Association is close to confirming a slate of candidates for the nomination to represent the Liberals in the next federal election.
That election will be held Oct. 19, 2009, unless there is an early dissolution of Parliament on a vote of confidence.
The riding is currently held by Blair Wilson, who is sitting as an independent after resigning his position in the Liberal Party last October, pending an Elections Canada investigation into allegations of unreported campaign spending. Although that investigation is still ongoing, the Liberal Party expelled Wilson in January for failing to reveal key information on nomination forms in 2004 and 2006. The search for a new candidate is now in its sixth month.
According to Ken Halliday, riding president, the party has so far interviewed eight possible candidates for the position. Ian Sutherland, the Mayor of Squamish, confirmed last week that he was approached by the party as a possible candidate, and that he was stepping down from his role at the next municipal elections in November.
Halliday could not reveal the names of the candidates until the names are confirmed by the Liberal Party’s central green light committee, something he expects to happen within the next few weeks.
“Every candidate has to submit a complete, detailed application form and submit it to the party’s green light committee which investigates the people that want to be candidates and makes recommendations,” said Halliday. “After we have enough candidates green-lighted the candidates can declare themselves, and the party will call a nominating meeting where the candidates can be voted on by members of the party — which probably won’t happen until the fall now that we’re so close to summer.
“But my expectation is that we’ll have a final list of the people who want to be candidates in the next few weeks.”
Halliday confirmed that there are members of the party that are still interested in reinstating Wilson, but says that’s out of the riding associations’ hands — the association can’t support any candidates without the support of the green light committee and party leader Stéphane Dion. Halliday says it’s technically possible for Wilson to be included in the candidate search, but the executive of the Liberal Party would have to accept his nomination, and he hasn’t heard that any members of the executive are pursuing that option.
Halliday says the level of interest by potential candidates is good for the party, as candidates will work to recruit their supporters as members of the party. It also means debates, town hall meetings, and other events in the riding leading up to the vote by party members.
“Hopefully we’ll have a real campaign and election, which is something you don’t have when one or two people step forward,” he said. “It’s quite exciting for the party.”