Mary Ann Murphy, an associate professor at UBC Okanagan, is running to become the Liberals' challenger to MP Dan Albas in the riding of Central Okanagan-Similkameen-Nicola.

The next federal election is less than a year away, and hopeful candidates for party nominations are coming forward.

Businesswoman Renee Wasylyk and former city councillor Tracy Gray are the declared candidates so far for the Conservative nomination in the riding of Kelowna-Lake Country.

The newly-created People's Party of Canada expects to choose its candidates for the two Kelowna ridings early in 2017.

MP Stephen Fuhr will once again represent the Liberals in the riding of Kelowna-Lake Country, and MP Dan Albas will represent the Tories in the riding of Central Okanagan-Similkameen-Nicola.

Mary Ann Murphy, an associate professor at UBC Okanagan, is running to become the Liberals' challenger to Albas in that riding. She talked about her desire to enter politics with The Daily Courier.

COURIER: What's the main reason you've decided to seek the Liberal nomination?

MURPHY: I believe that many Canadians share my discomfort around the current challenges to evidence-based policy, freedom of speech, and freedom of the press. In this post-fact world, it has become too easy to simply deny our accountability and responsibility to one another, and instead create enemies of those who disagree with us, or comfortably leave others out in the cold. I believe that the Liberal Party offers Canadians the best and most sustainable solution to balanced economic and social policy.

COURIER: Which particular projects would you champion in the riding if you were to win the nomination and, subsequently, the election?

MURPHY: In my numerous discussions with citizens across the riding, I have heard diverse perspectives on needs and priorities. On this basis, I think the key issues/priorities at the forefront include: addressing interprovincial trade (wine/ciders/other products); seniors’ care and healthy aging (incl. a National Seniors Strategy & infrastructure investment); climate change (incl. wildfire mitigation/flood controls); continued job creation/economic growth; and, post-secondary education (program funding/student loans).

COURIER: Isn't it a bit ambitious to aim for federal politics when you haven't served on a school board or city council?

MURPHY: I believe my personal and professional background leaves me best suited to run for federal politics. I do not believe that other levels of government (e.g. city council) need to serve as stepping-stones in the political arena. I think any individual seeking election to public office at any level must make the decision of determining what role as a representative they would best fulfill. I respect all those who put their names forward for public office at any level, as citizen engagement is vital to our democracy.

COURIER: What's in your background and experience that you think would make you a good Member of Parliament?

MURPHY: I have worked in private industry, government, and academia with a variety of populations (children, youth, families and seniors) and stakeholders (businesses, not-for-profits, NGOs). My education includes a Ph.D. in Health and Social Policy from Brandeis University (Boston). In addition, I worked at the United Nations (Vienna) and spent 10 years of my career working for consulting firms on social research, strategic/urban planning, and community/new town development. Presently, I am a tenured Associate Professor with a Cross-Appointment on Aging at UBC (Okanagan), teaching courses in the areas of: Canadian families; gerontological social work; social policy; and global aging. As a long-term resident of West Kelowna, I am a dedicated community advocate, donating hundreds of volunteer service hours to veterans, families, and organizations advocating for the needs of seniors’ and youth, healthy aging, housing, civic engagement, and intergenerational relations. On this basis, I believe I am very well versed in the issues that matter the most to the citizens in this riding, and that I would be the strongest voice for Central Okanagan-Similkameen-Nicola in Ottawa.

COURIER: How much of the Liberals success in increasing the party's vote totals across the two ridings that include the Central Okanagan in the 2015 election do you think was due to the appeal of Justin Trudeau as leader?

MURPHY: In 2015, Canadians sent a firm message that a marked departure from the Conservative Party’s ideologies, polices, and methodologies was necessary, as the public was fed up with the leadership of Prime Minister Harper and the Conservative Party’s severe lack of transparency, accountability, and democratic engagement. The Liberal Party of Canada, with Justin Trudeau as leader, has made significant strides on building a positive and progressive record since forming government in 2015, on key issues such as the economy/jobs, engagement with provinces, Indigenous relations, and Canada’s role on an international stage (e.g. UN Security Council seat - 2020). In contrast, the Conservative Party has had a change of leadership to Andrew Scheer, but continues to provide the same policy options as the former Harper government.

COURIER: Do you think the 2015 results show the Central Okanagan has really moved away from being a bedrock of small-c conservatism?

MURPHY: The voters sent a clear message in 2015 that nothing is set in stone. We are one of the fastest growing regions with an influx of new residents and industries, which will ensure that diverse perspectives and ideas will be abundant in this region. Voters have sought out and continue to seek representatives/policies that respect and protect values such as equality, diversity, and human dignity.

COURIER: MP Steven Fuhr was helped in 2014 by the Green Party's decision not to run a candidate against him, and in fact to also actively support his campaign. Would you seek similar support from the Green party in your riding next year?

MURPHY: I believe the Green Party, like every Party, has both the freedom of affiliation and right to independent advocacy. I strongly encourage members of all parties to learn more about me as we head into the 2019 campaign. I share the appreciation the residents of this riding have for the importance of the environment as linked to the safety, livelihood, and growth of the region. I believe that our region is uniquely placed to set an example for addressing environmental issues and climate change as they intersect with the economy, jobs, and healthcare.

COURIER: What do you think of the People's Party of Canada being created by former Tory Maxime Bernier?

MURPHY: I think Mr. Bernier’s decision to create the People’s Party of Canada is a prime example of Canadian democracy in action, as Mr. Bernier believes that his party will offer Canadians another conservative option when they go to the polls in 2019. As a former leadership frontrunner for the Conservative Party of Canada (who was supported in his bid by M.P. Dan Albas - B.C. campaign co-chair), I believe Mr. Bernier’s public remarks since founding the Party highlight the large divisions and internal turmoil in the workings of the Conservative Party of Canada, whereby there was no room left at their own table for even such an ardent member.

COURIER: What are the three most important qualities in an MP?

MURPHY: Good listener who is keenly interested in their constituents; Extensive knowledge of the issues in their riding; and, Ability/willingness to confidently and effectively work through issues by collaborating on innovative and practical solutions.

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