With less than one week to go before the Westside-Kelowna byelection, Conservative candidate Sean Upshaw says his confidence level is ‘good’ heading into next Wednesday’s vote.
“I know that my party and I have done what we can, but having said that, I mean let’s face it – we’re up against somebody that is probably automatically drawing all of the attention because of who she is and the role that she has in British Columbia,” says Upshaw.
He of course is talking about sitting premier and Liberal candidate Christy Clark, who is hoping to win the seat vacated by former elected MLA Ben Stewart, after he gave up his seat once Clark lost her own riding in May’s provincial election.
While neither Upshaw, nor the candidates for the other major parties (Clark and the NDP’s Carole Gordon) actually live within the boundaries of the Westside-Kelowna riding, he says this has not affected his campaign.
“I sell real estate in this area and I have for the last 12 years,” he says. “So when I’m driving around, I’m at home – it hasn’t affected my candidacy at all.”
Once the writ was dropped, Upshaw quickly notified the BC Conservative Party of his interest in the riding and the opportunity to campaign against Clark. He also asked provincial election candidate Brian Guillou (who received 11 per cent of the vote in the May election) and received his blessings to represent the party.
“The party recognized it was the right thing to do, to run a candidate against Christy Clark,” explains Upshaw, adding the party chose him for several reasons.
“They felt I was the most viable candidate to oppose her, and because I live here, it was just that obvious.
“I really believe we have a crisis in politics in BC. We have a disingenuous government that says one thing and does the complete opposite. We have seen more scandals in the past 12 years through the BC Liberal Party… broken promises, lies, and when I look at that I recognize it's no wonder that six out of 10 people in this riding chose not to vote.”
Upshaw admits it’s an uphill battle, but doesn’t believe the task to be insurmountable. He points at the “well oiled” Liberal machine, when compared to the various support he has gotten from different conservative factions around the province.
“Keep in mind we’re not as big of a machine as the NDP or the BC Liberals and one can’t expect us to function at that level,” he says.
“We don’t have big business or unions behind us the way these other parties do, so our message is a little harder to deliver. We aren’t necessarily going to see the amount of on-the-ground support, but that shouldn’t be mistaken for our validity. We’re still a valid option for British Columbia.”
Following up on that point, he calls it a “positive” that the BC Conservatives are not a special interest party that someday could owe favours to either unions or large corporations, saying “we can’t be bribed.”
Concentrating on the Westside-Kelowna riding, Upshaw believes transportation to be one of the biggest issues affecting the community, and doesn’t expect the Liberal government to make significant changes to that riding regardless of who is elected.
“I think that Westside-Kelowna has been largely ignored by the BC Liberal government. They have needs, such as placement for city hall, the transportation issues of the couplet and highway realignment. They’ve also got healthcare issues that need attention,” notes Upshaw.
“When you look at how they’ve been treated by this BC Liberal government, I’m surprised the citizens aren’t up in arms and wanting to run Christy out of town.”
Provincially, he doesn’t mince words when asked what the major problem is with BC: “corruption”.
Calling himself an “economentalist”, Upshaw believes the economy has become polluted.
“Our economy is going to be the downfall of our province because we’re being over taxed, we’re being charged $25 for wheel chairs, we have multi-tiered hydro rates, carbon taxes, and all kinds of hidden phantom taxes inside of ICBC or MSP premiums.
“And it’s quite frankly polluting the overall economic environment of British Columbia. So it’s time we sent an “economentalist” to Victoria.”