The benefits of incumbency

Joan Phillip, NDP candidate in Central Okanagan-Similkameen-Nicola, and volunteers hammer together election signs on Thursday at Phillip’s campaign office in Westbank.

How sweet an advantage is it to be the incumbent?

“Pretty big I should think,” said Stephen Fuhr, the Liberal seeking re-election in Kelowna-Lake Country in the Oct. 21 federal vote.

“I’ve delivered big time for the community with federal funding. If people want that to continue, a Liberal MP in a Liberal government can make that happen.”

As examples, Fuhr ran through a list of federal funding announcements he’s made as MP over the past four years.

It ranges from $32 million for Kelowna’s integrated clean water system and $22 million for Mill Creek flood protection to $2 million for Rails to Trails and increases in Canada Child Benefit for many families.

Dan Albas, the Conservative incumbent in Central Okanagan-Similkameen-Nicola, has to approach his bid for re-election differently.

He was in government for four years after the Conservative won in 2011.

But he’s been in the opposition since the Liberal topped the polls in 2015.

“I’ve had to get results in a different way,” said Albas.

“I’ve brought forward more private-members bills than any other MP in B.C.”

Those include breaking down inter-provincial trade barriers not just for wine and beer but all other products, protection from bankruptcy for registered education and registered disability savings plans and ensuring credit unions can continue to use the terms bank, banker and banking.

“When you have a record you are proud of in the riding, it’s definitely beneficial to be the incumbent,” said Albas.

“But this is a democracy, so I don’t believe in so-called safe ridings (his riding is sometimes referred to as safely Conservative). I always campaign like I’m five votes behind.”

The SNC Lavalin scandal that continues to dog Prime Minister Justin Trudeau will be an issue both nationally and locally.

“People just don’t have the same trust in Justin Trudeau after the SNC Lavalin affair,” said Albas. “The Conservatives will hold him accountable.”

Fuhr says he doesn’t like divisive debates about party leaders.

“The reality is our community and our country has done very well under the policies of this prime minister and this government,” said Fuhr.

“The Liberals support middle-class Canadians and have helped pull people out of poverty with positive economic growth, an economy that’s firing on all cylinders and the lowest unemployment rates in 50 years.”

Albas, meantime, is confident the Conservatives can emerge victorious from the general election to institute the party vision.

“Making life better for Canadians with a platform of affordability for housing, cost of living and taxes is what it’s all about,” said Albas.

With the federal election campaign underway to an Oct. 21 vote, it’s time to round up who’s running for MP in the two local ridings.

Kelowna-Lake Country

  • Stephen Fuhr, Liberal incumbent — Phone: 250-436-8648
  • Tracy Gray, Conservative — Phone: 250-469-9622
  • Justin Kulik, NDP — Phone: 778-753-6299
  • Travis Ashley, Green — Phone: 250-575-2528
  • Darrin Fiddler, Marijuana Party — Email: darrin@mariceuticals.ca
  • John Barr, People's Party — no information available

Central Okanagan-Similkameen-Nicola

  • Dan Albas, Conservative incumbent — Phone: 1-877-291-1253
  • Mary Ann Murphy, Liberal — Phone: 250-258-5421
  • Joan Phillip, NDP — Phone: 778-754-7801
  • Robert Mellalieu, Green — Phone: 250-317-7788
  • Allan Duncan, People's Party — Email: voteallanduncan@gmail.com
  • Brynn Jones, Marijuana Party — Phone: 250-448-7986
  • Jesse Regier, Libertarian — no information available