Skeena-Bulkley Valley Conservatives are not waiting for the next federal election to be called to get their house in order.
More than 120 members gathered a the Smithers Golf and Country Club on Oct. 14 for a fundraiser to support the next election campaign.
After cocktails and dinner, Bob Zimmer, the Conservative MP for Prince George-Peace River-Northern Rockies, reminded the room to be prepared for the next election since history has shown that it can be called at any time.
The next election is scheduled by legislation for Oct. 25, 2025. As long as the NDP and Liberals abide by the confidence-and-supply agreement they signed in March of this year, that is when the election will be held, but the Conservatives are not convinced the deal will hold and want to be ready to go.
While discussing various northern issues, Zimmer was optimistic about the prospects for a Conservative candidate in Skeena-Bulkley Valley.
Ralph Weick, president of the Conservative’s Skeena-Bulkley Valley Electoral District Association (EDA), was extremely pleased with the event noting that membership in Skeena-Bulkley Valley has increased by 400 per cent over the past year.
“We’re beyond excited to see that number increase. It is a testament to the growing support of the Conservative Party in our region” he said.
Weick attributes the increase to a combination of factors.
“I attribute that to discontent with the current federal government as well as (with) our local representation,” he said. “But we can also give the leadership race that just occurred federally across the country a large part in that as well.”
In that race, Pierre Poilievre, who won the leadership race on Sept. 10, signed up almost 312,000 new members across the country, according to his campaign.
Weick also noted there is a lot of interest from potential candidates locally although he would not divulge any names at this time.
“We do have people that have expressed interest from all corners of the riding, so, I would anticipate that at some point in the foreseeable future, we’re going to have a very, very active and full nomination process,” he said.
Claire Rattée, who ran under the Conservative banner in the riding in 2019 and 2021, was not able to attend, according to Janelle Oosterhoff, one of the dinner’s organizers.
Weick said Rattée is mulling the prospect over, but if she does want to run, she would have to get a waiver due to party rules that forbid a candidate to run again after two consecutive losses. However, he said a waiver is possible because of the quick election call in 2021 on the heels of the 2019 election.
In 2021, Rattée garnered 36.1 per cent of the vote to the NDP’s Taylor Bachrach’s 42.3 per cent reducing the gap from 2019 by more than a full percentage point.
Rattée did not immediately answer an inquiry from Black Press for comment.
In addition to monies raised through attendance, local supporters also donated items to a silent auction that raised additional funds.
Weick would not divulge the full extent of the money raised but said it was in the thousands of dollars.
He said the EDA is intent on holding more events throughout the riding and promises the Smithers fundraiser is just the beginning of preparation for the next election.