Renee Merrifield’s entry into provincial politics involved a phone call, a single question, and a Zoom press conference.
And the whole process took about an hour Monday morning.
The Kelowna developer was named by BC Liberal Leader Andrew Wilkinson as the party’s candidate in Kelowna-Mission for the Oct. 24 election.
“It’s been an absolute whirlwind, but I feel incredibly honoured and humbled to be asked to represent the party,” Merrifield said later.
Although incumbent MLA Steve Thomson announced last December he would not run again, the party had not yet chosen his successor through a traditional nomination process. There was little urgency to do as the next election was not scheduled until October 2021.
But NDP Premier John Horgan’s decision Monday to call a snap vote meant there would be no time to stage a nomination process.
Merrifield, a 15-year-member of the BC Liberal party, had let it be known months ago she would seek the Liberal nomination for Kelowna-Mission.
“I’m a huge believer in open and competitive nominations,” said Merrifield, who lost the federal Conservative nomination in Kelowna-Lake Country to Tracy Gray through just such a process.
“If Horgan hadn’t called this election, we’d be chugging right on toward a 2021 provincial election that would have given lots of time for members to choose the Liberal candidate,” she said.
“But he’s chosen the middle of a pandemic to call an election, so we had to get ready quickly,” Merrifield said. “Nominations are always better than acclamations. But this was a last resort."
Early Monday, Merrifield said she got a “cryptic text” from Liberal party officials to be ready to answer her phone. When she answered, the question was simple: Would she run for the Liberals in Kelowna-Mission?
After answering yes, Merrifield was quickly presented along with Wilkinson and other Liberals during a virtual press conference that followed Horgan’s election announcement.
The rapid sequence of events left on the outside would-be candidate contenders such as three-term Kelowna city councillor Mohini Singh, who had twice in recent months spoken to Wilkinson about her interest in running in Kelowna-Mission.
“But I’m okay with whatever happens,” Singh said, before she knew that Wilkinson had moved to directly choose Merrifield as the candidate.
During the election, Merrifield said one of focuses will be on what she claims is the NDP’s inadequate COVID-19 economic recovery plan, particularly its scant detail on key Kelowna sectors such as tourism, hospitality, and agriculture.