Two to challenge Fox for local PC nomination
Lacombe businessman Peter DeWit and former Ponoka mayor and businessman Larry Henkleman will both challenge Fox for the local PC riding nomination.
As a provincial election draws near, just who will represent the governing Progressive Conservative Party from the Lacombe-Ponoka riding is nowhere near a certainty.
Former Wildrose MLA Rod Fox crossed the floor with eight of his colleagues, including former Wildrose leader Danielle Smith, just before Christmas to join the PC party. Fox is now the sitting PC MLA for the riding, but he will have challengers in seeking the PC nomination in an attempt to be re-elected as MLA.
The PC Association is expected to nominate a candidate in March and already two names, in addition to Fox, have come forward as candidates.
Lacombe businessman Peter DeWit and former Ponoka mayor and businessman Larry Henkleman will both challenge Fox for the nomination.
“I have been working on this for quite a while, in terms of getting into provincial politics. This has nothing to do with any of the latest developments that happened with the Wildrose and the PCs. I have been involved with the PCs for some time. About a year and a half ago I actively became involved in the local constituency,” Dewit told the Globe this week.
Meanwhile, Henkleman said he received support earlier this month at the Lacombe-Ponoka Constituency Annual General Meeting.
“It is good for taxpayers and voters of our constituency to have a choice. A lot of people come with a lot of backgrounds and different experience and I guess that is where I come with a lot of experience with municipal government. I also come here with experience where our municipality had come through some tough times, where we had to try and balance our budgets,” said Henkleman.
The fact that the sitting Lacombe-Ponoka MLA (Rod Fox) was among those who crossed the floor from the Wildrose Party has undoubtedly raised the profile of the PC nomination process locally.
“It is an unprecedented move in Canadian political history. I don’t think we have every seen that happen before. A lot of people are confused about it; a lot of voters don’t understand it on both sides of the spectrum. Wildrose supporters are of course very surprised and many of them are angry that the people they voted for to represent their concerns have now joined another party that they did not vote for. Whereas the PC supporters, they end up with a MLA that they didn’t vote for. I think you have some discontent and some concern on both sides of the spectrum,” said Dewit.
“I think it will increase the interest in politics in general, which I think is crucial. Too many people are sitting on the sidelines when it comes to politics. Definitely, I think this will spark the interest and move people to action to make things better and to have a voice. Everyone has a voice in the political process but because it is a party nomination, a party election, you have to be a member,” said Henkleman, who had been association president until stepping down to seek the nomination.
“The thing is, first with the floor crossing, definitely there are people concerned and there are people not happy about some of the floor crossing, even in the PC association and maybe even in the Wildrose Association. With that it builds up interest in the constituency.
“Especially after our last constituency meeting where we had a great turnout, which we haven’t had for a lot of years, there were people voicing their concerns and feeling about the floor crossings.”
DeWit agreed choice is a positive thing for the PC association and its members.
“It is crucial. I think people want choice; they want to have different options when they cast their vote. I think it is extremely important for democracy that other people step up to the plate and do what I did and show their willingness to represent this area and get involved,” he said.