Federal Election 2015  

Denesiuk finds comfort spot

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

Connie Denesiuk, Liberal – South Okanagan - West Kootenay

Connie Denesiuk, 57, is a successful local politician attempting, for the second time, to move to a larger stage. 

After 19 years on the Okanagan Skaha School Board, including stints on the provincial and national trustees associations, she retired in 2011 to make an ultimately unsuccessful run for the Liberal nomination in the 2012 provincial election. Now, she's running federally under the Liberal banner in South Okanagan-West Kootenay.

After a couple of years out of politics, Denesiuk found a comfortable home with the federal Liberals and ran unopposed last summer to become the party's candidate. She has been campaigning ever since.

She sees herself as a selfless toiler on behalf of her constituents and fellow Canadians: “Everything (about me) has always been about positive change. I’m not doing it for myself. I could go to our cabin and read the books I haven’t read for the last 16 months. But, instead, I’m doing this because I believe I can make a difference.” 

Denesiuk dipped her toe in more than one ideological pool before discovering the Trudeau Liberals, which, she says, fit her like a pair of “comfortable shoes.”

Besides attempting to hook up with Christy Clark’s right-leaning BC Liberals, she was also a member of the federal Conservative Party. 

She says she only joined the Tories so she could vote against Stockwell Day when he first attempted to run in Penticton.

When she approached the local Liberal riding association about its positions on key issues, she discovered “A party that is fiscally responsible but looks after people who need it most. That’s who I am. I spent my life trying to make things better for people.”

Denesiuk says she was driven to run in this election because of “the way Canada is being governed” by the Conservatives. 

She cited the so-called “robo-call” scandal, the move toward anti-democratic omnibus bills, lack of action on climate change and Canada’s lost standing in the international community as key issues for her.

Denesiuk partners with her husband in their family-owned contracting business.

The 35-year-old firm is involved in residential construction, including renovations, additions and new homes. “We’ve seen how to get through the hard times … by investing when times are tough in order to diversify and keep the business going.”

Denesiuk’s formal education ended with her graduation from Penticton High School. She has taken several college-level, business-related courses to help equip her for handling the administrative side of the family business.

Denesiuk is an active volunteer, including stints as vice-chair of the Okanagan College board of governors, chair of the Trail of the Okanagan steering committee, director of the Summerland Chamber of Commerce and Summerland Credit Union.

She calls herself a “person of faith” and is on the leadership board of Summerland Baptist Church.

Among her political heroes, Denesiuk cites: Lester Pearson, “someone I think was fair and peaceful," Martin Luther King Jr. and Judy LaMarsh, “a strong role model for women in politics in Canada and beyond.” 

As a reader, Denesiuk says she tends to historical fiction and biography although recently she’s been reading “so many policy papers and political papers,” she hasn’t had time for casual reading. 

She has read her leader’s recent memoir Common Ground and got two-thirds of the way through Party of One: Stephen Harper and Canada’s Radical Makeover, but had to put it down because, ”I was just so disgusted.”

Her favourite movies are Muppet Treasure Island and The Shawshank Redemption.

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