B.C's Conservative Party has announced Ryan Warawa — whose father Mark Warawa served as a federal Conservative MP for Langley-Aldergrove for five terms — will run in the riding of Langley East in B.C.'s upcoming general election.
Mark Warawa died in June 2019 at the age of 69 from cancer, just six months after announcing his retirement from politics.
Ryan Warawa was by his father's side in his final days in palliative care and says he has taken the time since then to reflect on his father's character and integrity.
"He was the one who instilled in me the value of giving back to your community and not looking at your interests but the interests of others."
Warawa, 44, currently works in the insurance industry. He joined the Conservative Party of B.C. in 2004, the same year his father became an MP, and has since served as its vice-president and president.
In the 2008 federal election, Ryan then 32 years old ran as the Conservative nominee for Vancouver East.
"It was an eye-opening experience. I learned a huge respect for all candidates regardless of what what party you run for," he said.
He lost to Libby Davies, the riding's longtime NDP MP, who served from 1997 to 2015.
Warawa recognizes he and B.C's Conservatives are facing an uphill battle come election night — not just in Langley East but in the province itself. The party drew less than one per cent of all votes in the last provincial election.
And Langley East has been a Liberal mainstay with veteran MLA Rich Coleman — who announced his retirement in February — holding the seat for six terms.
"We're coming into this campaign as the underdog. We do provide a fresh option to voters that the other three parties haven't presented yet," said Warawa.
He says a fiscally conservative voice in the legislature is important now because of the huge burden the COVID-19 pandemic has placed on the province's finances.
"The three traditional parties are going to promise to spend, spend, spend. As a conservative, I am always hesitant to just release funds."
In an powerful farewell address to the House of Commons — met with tears and a standing ovation — Mark Warawa called for greater compassion in end-of-life care for Canadians. It's a key issue Ryan will also be fighting for, should he win.
"I want an ongoing conversation in the provincial government about palliative care because I, like my father believe every human being should have the right to palliative and hospice care, should they so chose."
The provincial election will be held on Oct. 24, 2020.