A sitting Liberal MLA is seeking the federal nomination for the Conservative Party in a right-wing Fraser Valley stronghold, despite failing to win the Tories' blessing in a previous attempt.
Two-term MLA Marc Dalton said Thursday that he would retain his membership in both the provincial Liberals and the federal Conservatives, but sit as an independent MLA as he seeks a nomination for the riding of Pitt Meadows-Maple Ridge-Mission.
"I talked to the Premier and the caucus last night and I was very touched by the response that they gave me," said Mr. Dalton about his decision to run for the federal Tories. "I'm aligned with the BC Liberals, but I will be sitting as an independent until the nomination is finished."
Mr. Dalton, a former school teacher, won a Conservative nomination for Burnaby-New Westminster in the 2006 federal election, but lost to NDP MP Peter Julian. Previously, he had lost the Conservative Pitt Meadows-Maple Ridge-Mission nomination to current MP Randy Kamp in 2004.
In 2008, Mr. Dalton had sought to run again for the Tories in Burnaby-New Westminster, but had his nomination vetoed without ever receiving an explanation. After that, he ran for the BC Liberals and was elected in 2009 and again in 2013.
During the 2009 provincial campaign, the NDP released an e-mail from Mr. Dalton from the 1990s in which he said, "I believe homosexuality is a moral issue."
Asked Thursday about the comments, he said, "Things have changed in our society, that's just a given, and I'm not out to push back on that. I am here to support people of all persuasions and whatever faith, whatever orientations they may have."
He said he is motivated to again seek a federal nomination because he is interested in international and defence issues, having grown up in a military family that moved across the country.
Mr. Dalton said he had talked to Tory party brass and is cleared to run again after having his nomination denied in 2008. A representative of the Conservatives' riding association said he couldn't talk about the nomination process, and a call to the federal party was not returned Thursday.
"Obviously that would influence my decision and it's been very positive," Mr. Dalton said. "So I believe as a two-term elected MLA that I've demonstrated that I can hold the seat – even though it's at a different level."
Mr. Dalton will be squaring off in the nomination battle against Mike Murray, the executive assistant of the riding's current MP Mr. Kamp.
Four years ago, Mr. Murray managed Mr. Dalton's "I'm with Marc" campaign to stop Pitt Meadows and Maple Ridge voters from recalling the Liberal MLA over his government's bungled attempt at rolling out the harmonized sales tax.
Mr. Murray, a former pastor, said he isn't "going to be negative about anything" and that he texted Mr. Dalton as soon as he heard of the announcement to "welcome him to the race."
"I worked for him, I don't dislike him at all," Mr. Murray said. "This will be his fifth attempt to be a member of Parliament, so he's obviously had it in his ambition for a long time. So I'm not surprised when the announcement came, because I just thought if the opportunity came Marc wouldn't be able to not try."
Mr. Murray said he expects an endorsement from his current boss Mr. Kamp. Mr. Dalton said he recommended that Mr. Kamp hire Mr. Murray after their success in avoiding a by-election over the HST uproar.
Both Mr. Murray and Mr. Dalton said they were drawn to the Conservatives' commitment to the fighting Islamic State and overseeing the economy.