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BC MP Russ Hiebert, then Parliamentary Secretary to the Minister of National Defence, speaks to Afghan Mr. Ramazan through an unidentified interpreter, who will receive a Canadian donated wheelchair, Thursday Jan. 4, 2007, in Kandahar, Afghanistan. (Bill Graveland/Bill Graveland/The Canadian Press)
BC MP Russ Hiebert, then Parliamentary Secretary to the Minister of National Defence, speaks to Afghan Mr. Ramazan through an unidentified interpreter, who will receive a Canadian donated wheelchair, Thursday Jan. 4, 2007, in Kandahar, Afghanistan. (Bill Graveland/Bill Graveland/The Canadian Press)

Regional report

Early federal election campaign sees B.C.'s Tories battle amongst themselves Add to ...

The opening shots of the federal election campaign in B.C. came from Tories firing on Tories in seats held by Tory MPs, according to reports of regional newspapers across the province.

In Russ Hiebert's riding of South Surrey-White Rock-Cloverdale, former Conservative party member Hardy Staub, who was mayor of White Rock for nine years, was so upset with the Conservative party that he decided to run as the Liberal candidate in the riding." "I feel that our community needs somebody who will represent us in Ottawa rather than represent Ottawa to us," Mr. Staub said in a statement reported by the Peace Arch News. Mr. Hiebert will also face off against Aart Looye, who is running as an "Independent Conservative." Mr. Looye said Mr. Hiebert has not served the needs of the constituents. "He's served the needs of the Conservative Party," said Mr. Looye. Several long-time Conservatives have resigned from the local association board in recent months following controversy arising from Mr. Hiebert's extraordinary expense claims of $637,093, the highest for a B.C. MP and second highest in Canada in 2008-2009.

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Caustic exchanges between Tories provided strong headlines in local newspapers reporting on ridings held by long-time Conservative stalwarts Stockwell Day, Chuck Strahl and John Cummins, who announced on Mar. 12 they would not seek re-election.

"Race to replace Day was rigged say some hopefuls," stated the headline in the Penticton Western News. Kelowna realtor Sean Upshaw was interested in the Conservative nomination in Okanagan-Coquihalla after Mr. Day announced his intention to retire from politics. But the nomination was held so quickly after Mr. Day's announcement that Mr. Upshaw did not have time to meet party requirements for submitting nomination papers. The newspaper reported that Mr. Upshaw thought he could deliver his nomination papers to the party's riding association president, Mr. Day's assistant Doug Sharpe. However when he met Mr. Sharpe, he was told to send his application to Ottawa. But by then it was too late. "If this is the present state of how we decide to elect our politicians in the Conservative party, what a sad, sad state of affairs we are in," Mr. Upshaw told the newspaper. Former fundraising chair for Mr. Day, Mischa Popoff, told the newspaper he tore up his Conservative membership card in protest over how the nomination process was handled. Mr. Popoff said it was "a clear abuse of the electoral process," the newspaper reported. City councillor Dan Albas won the nomination.

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"Langbroek lambastes Tory nomination process" was the headline in the Chilliwack Progress after former city councillor Casey Langbroek lost his chance to run for the nomination in the riding of Chilliwack Fraser Canyon. The newspaper reported that Mr. Langbroek was questioning his membership in the federal Conservative Party. Mr. Langbroek was considering a run for the nomination but was on a business trip in Ontario when he heard that the incumbent Mr. Strahl would not be running for re-election. "I don't think the powers that be ... are in touch with reality as far as the process is concerned, and the amount of time that needs to be taken to mount a serious campaign for the nomination," he told the newspaper. Mark Strahl, the son of the retiring Chuck Strahl, won the nomination at a hastily called meeting.

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"Party quick to toss Saip under bus," stated a headline in The Delta Optimist atop a column on the Conservative Party's nomination to replace John Cummins in Delta-Richmond. Dale Saip, who had served more than two decades on the Delta school board, was forced to give up the nomination that he had won after publicity about his personal finances. "Given he applied and was accepted to stand for the nomination, I can see three scenarios at play here: Either he didn't disclose his financial history, he did so but the party didn't catch it or it was aware of the situation but didn't think it was a big deal until stuff started hitting the fan this week. My guess is it's the latter, although, given the second and third scenarios don't reflect well on the Conservatives, I'm betting they opt for the first one. They've already thrown him under the bus on this one, so why not back it up on him too?" wrote Ted Murphy in The Delta Optimist . Mr. Murphy also considered whether Mr. Saip was unfit to serve in public office. "He's been at the helm of the school board for years, and while it's endured many financial challenges brought on primarily by declining enrollment, its finances appear to have been managed quite well. So whatever personal issues [Mr.]Saip has encountered, they haven't necessarily translated to his public life," he wrote. The riding association picked Kerry-Lynne Findlay as their candidate, although Ms. Findlay has also had money problems. Mr. Saip had defeated her for the nomination by a vote of 78 to 66, the newspaper reported.

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Donovan Cavers, the Green Party candidate in Kamloops Thompson Cariboo, has found an innovative approach to taking politics to the people. The Daily News in Kamloops reported Mr. Cavers, who spends a lot of time riding the bus, intends to carry a party sign and keep a seat vacant beside him so people can ride with him and talk. "We're going to see what happens and respond to whatever issues come up in the public," he told the newspaper. Mr. Cavers stepped in last week to replace party candidate Kevin Ortner, who told Kamloops This Week that he stepped aside in the hope that the Green vote would move to the NDP or Liberals and block a Conservative victory.

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Meanwhile in B.C. politics,

The Daily News in Kamloops reported that Kevin Krueger attributed his demotion from the provincial cabinet earlier this month to the will of God. Mr. Krueger (Kamloops-South Thompson) held four ministerial posts and a minister of state posting in the Gordon Campbell government. The city will be represented in cabinet by Terry Lake (Kamloops North Thompson), who was appointed environment minister. "I've been a Christian all my life and feel God allows, or wills, things to happen. I'd felt for a while we'd all benefit from having Terry in cabinet, and if Terry was there, it was unlikely I'd have a shot," Mr. Krueger said in remarks reported in the The Daily News. His comments sparked a response in Kamloops This Week from Bill Ligertwood, of the Kamloops Centre for Rational Thought. "Kevin Krueger has informed us in the past he is "owned by God" and recently saw fit to credit this God for his removal from cabinet, as though Christy Clark had nothing to do with it," Mr. Ligertwood wrote.

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