After losing by just over one per cent of the vote, Helena Konanz is taking another shot at representing the South Okanagan-West Kootenay riding in the next federal election after being nominated by the riding association in February.
Konanz came within 796 votes of incumbent NDP MP Richard Cannings in 2019, a number she knows by heart.
“It was a tough loss, so close, one of the closest in the country. So I'm honoured that the people, the Conservatives in this riding have faith in me and faith in the team that we can do it in the next election, that we can win the next election. Whenever that is.”
Like many Canadians, Konanz and her family are counting their blessings while enduring the hardships of the pandemic. This year along with working as a career coach, the former Penticton city councillor has been working with the local Conservative Party of Canada riding association and getting the team in place for the possibility of an election.
In 2019, the Konanz campaign put much of its focus on door-knocking, touting 40,000 visits to residents. She aims to build off those efforts in whatever form that may take this time around, though she hopes an election is not in the cards just yet as many Canadians are still dealing with the the impacts of COVID-19.
“If for some reason Justin Trudeau does call the election - which I hope he doesn't because I think the people of Canada need to concentrate on other things, and want to concentrate on other things besides an election - but if he were to call one, we already have talked to over 40,000 people, which will really help us to know what it is that the people here want,” Konanz said.
“So if we aren't allowed to door-knock, then we'll be doing a lot more phoning. If we're allowed to travel through the riding, we will try to reach people through that. But it will all be up to the local health authorities to see what it is we're able to do.”
Konanz believes there is an appetite for change in the South Okanagan-West Kootenay riding following a year that saw the Trudeau government prorogue Parliament and not deliver a budget.
“I took from the last election that a lot of people are ready for change. Not quite enough, 796 short of a change, but a lot of people are interested in the change. And since then, (MP Richard Cannings) has voted right alongside Justin Trudeau and including proroguing Parliament over the summer, during one of the most difficult times our country has ever had since World War II,” Konanz said.
The Conservative Party of Canada has had an appetite for change as well since Konanz last ran, and is sure to face some self-reflection as most political parties do at the upcoming CPC convention - the first since Erin O’Toole was elected party leader and the first since the 2019 election.
“There are all different types of people in the Conservative Party that have a lot of different views. The best thing about it is that we all agree on about 80 per cent of them. And there's always going to be some part of our organization that may not agree. But that will only be on about 20 per cent of the subjects, so we all can agree on about 80 per cent,” Konanz said.
“I think we should concentrate on what it is we actually agree on. And so with the convention, I think you're going to see that we actually will have a lot of debate on different subjects. But I think you're going to see that we agree on a lot more than we don't.”
Canada will inevitably head into an economic recovery as vaccines are giving glimmers of hope following a year that had little.
Attitudes on social spending globally have adjusted as many relied on governments to keep families and businesses afloat during the pandemic. Though she noted it’s hard to plan an economic future without a budget to work from.
“I know that our party believes that when people need money, they need money. I mean, we need to make sure that nobody is doing without and I think Canada is so much better than the United States in that respect. But I think that the first thing we need to do is have transparency on what is happening in government and in government spending. What has happened in the last year?” Konanz said.
“I think it's going to have to be slow and thoughtful, the recovery. I think that it's going to have to immediately look at jobs and job creation, making sure that people have work so that they don't have to go on government programs if they don't need to. And that means that we have to make sure that businesses are able to stay open or open up again, ones that have closed, there are many businesses that have closed down that have not opened up, and we're hoping that they will.”
Dale Boyd, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter, Times-Chronicle