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Federal Election 2015  

Neufeld: following heroes

Castanet is featuring profiles on all the Okanagan candidates in the upcoming federal election.

Marshall Neufeld, Conservative – South Okanagan-West Kootenay

Marshall Neufeld, 33, is unabashedly conservative and Christian – and seeking to take the seat once held by his political hero, Stockwell Day.

He's running for the federal Conservative Party in South Okanagan-West Kootenay.

Neufeld’s political involvement started early, volunteering for Day before he was out of high school and continuing through a 2 1/2 year stint as Day’s Parliamentary assistant in Ottawa.

While still a teenager he was one of two young Canadians chosen by a group called “Encounters with Canada” to place a wreath in Ottawa on Remembrance Day. It was there that he met Preston Manning for the first time. “I was very happy to meet him,” he says, although the two have not kept in touch. 

He is a past president of the Conservative riding association for the former Okanagan-Coquihalla constituency and a former member of the party’s National Council. 

Mature beyond his years, Neufeld enjoys discussing the subtleties of the “traditional Westminster” electoral system and fixing up his 1936 heritage house in Penticton.

Neufeld is perfectly comfortable on the right wing of the Conservative Party. “We’re a big tent party. (But) I have never shied away (from the fact that) I first started getting involved under Reform. I thought Preston Manning was a tremendous leader for the time.”

He cites Day and Manning as political heroes. “Both were people who exhibited great character and people who put forward principled policies and, through their passionate arguments, convinced more and more people about their way of looking at the world.”

As an evangelical Christian, Neufeld is opposed to abortion, but has reconciled with the party’s decision to stay away from the issue. 

“As a person who is in favour of life, I fully understand that our prime minister and the Conservative government have made it very clear that they will not be reopening this issue and I respect that position of theirs,” he said.

Neufeld says the thing drives him to seek public office is “a sense that you can truly help people through public office. I’ve always had a desire to serve others.”

He points to his early career as a health care worker as a reflection of that desire to help people. 

His published platform tracks the national campaign, pledging to work for: income splitting for families; reduced taxes; a continuation of current fiscal and financial policies; national and international free trade; and “keeping our communities safe.”      

After two years at Okanagan University College, Neufeld worked as a physiotherapy and rehabilitation assistant in North Vancouver and later in Penticton.

About 10 years later, he moved into the family business. 

“I always had in mind that I wanted to be a realtor. My grandfather started the (real estate) business back in ‘49. My father joined in ‘79. I always knew I also would do that,” he said.

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