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Weston regains Conservative candidacy

1,000-plus party members turn local candidate

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By Andrew Mitchell

West Vancouver’s John Weston regained the Conservative Party candidacy for the West Vancouver-Sunshine Coast-Sea to Sky riding on Sunday after winning the party nomination from rival David Thomas.

According to Weston the difference was in reputation — outside of West Vancouver, few Conservative Party members knew who Thomas was, which Thomas earlier acknowledged was a problem for his campaign to represent the riding.

“I think key for me is that I already know many of the people who came to the nomination meetings from the last few years of campaigning,” said Weston. “I’ve been working the last two years to increase the profile of the party in the riding, and at the same time increasing my own profile. While Mr. Thomas is fairly high profile in West Vancouver, I’ve spent more time outside of West Vancouver in Sea to Sky and the Sunshine Coast.”

The final vote was 601 for Weston to 347 for Thomas, which Weston believes is the largest turnout for any riding nomination ever held in West Vancouver-Sunshine Coast-Sea to Sky.

“For me that was the most exciting thing, and I think it really tells you something about the enthusiasm for our Conservative organization. People like what they see in Stephen Harper and in the team we’ve built. I feel we have great momentum and are in a good position to take (Liberal MP) Blair Wilson in the next election.”

Weston was the Conservative candidate in the January 2006 federal election, losing to Wilson by less than a thousand votes, or about 1.5 per cent of all votes cast. With the Conservative Party forming a minority government, all political parties are poised for a snap election if Harper’s government loses a confidence vote.

If an election happens in 2007, which Weston believes is a possibility, he believes the Conservative Party will regain power in a majority position. If that’s the case he believes that voters in the riding will want a voice in caucus, rather than in the opposition.

“What happened in 2006 is that a lot of people in the NDP and Green Party voted strategically to stop a Conservative Party majority, and that’s not going to happen next time now that people are more familiar with Harper. Liberal scare tactics aren’t going to work,” said Weston.

Weston says he is campaigning even now, and is ready to ramp up his team if another election is called. Some experts believe that will happen at the next federal budget, if opposition parties vote to bring down the government. All budget votes are considered to be confidence votes in Parliament.

“I have to assume that the election is going to be called tomorrow, and I’m ready if that’s the case,” he said.

Being a member of the ruling Conservative Party will have some benefits for the riding, even if our MP is Liberal says Weston. One example was in the fall when Weston invited former immigration minister Monte Solberg to Whistler to discuss the labour shortage.

As an outsider Weston is championing a series of temporary worker initiatives to boost construction and tourism labour pools that are currently being reviewed by the ministry. The initiatives include extending temporary work visas and permits to two years from one year, extending the period that employers can apply to hire and extend the stay of foreign workers, and expanding the program whereby provinces can identify the specific skills and qualifications necessary for foreign workers. For example, Alberta needs people with skills to work in the oil fields, while B.C. needs people with construction skills and skills that complement tourism.

“It’s important for people in the riding and the business community to see that the Conservative Party is taking their interests to heart,” said Weston.

The Conservative Party held nominations in all ridings across Canada, where even MPs and Prime Minister Stephen Harper had to get the approval of their riding associations.

Weston has a website at www.johnweston.ca.

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