Feature Story Tuesday, February 7, 2012
Liberals Acclaim Throness
Candidate fires first volleys at the NDP during acceptance speech, refers to Conservatives as 'buddies'
Chilliwack-Hope Liberal candidate Laurie Throness speaks to supporters Saturday after his acclamation at the Coast Hotel .
iberal Party supporters lined the hallway outside the Rosedale Room Saturday at the Coast Hotel in anticipation of Premeir Christie Clark's arrival. She was in town to acclaim Laurie Throness their Chilliwack-Hope candidate in the upcoming byelection rumoured to be sometime in March. No others stepped forward in the contest triggered by the resignation of MLA Barry Penner late last year.
Approximately 250-300 party faithful gave the premier a thunderous standing ovation and then listened as she delivered a scorching speech designed to light fires under her supporter's seats.
Throness took a moment to speak with the Voice prior to his acceptance speech, saying he was "excited" about the prospect of running in the byelection.
BC Premier Christy Clark talks with a supporter as she arrives at the Coast Hotel Saturday.
"The premier's here today, we have a tremendous crowd, I'm going to be making a speech and I'm going to be the candidate, so I'm sort of over the moon today. I'm looking forward to engaging voters in Chilliwack-Hope and just meeting them on the doorsteps and we're going to get at it starting today."
The Liberals know that holding onto the riding is going to be a battle royale for two reasons; history shows that byelections tend not to favour the sitting party; and Conservative candidate John Martin may steal votes from them and cause a split, enabling relentless NDP candidate Gwen O'Mahony to gain the majority.
The Green Party of BC won't be running a candidate. Federally, Ian Stephan is rumored to be taking over from Jamie Hoskins, who is currently finishing his BA at SFU and then hoping to be accepted for an MA in the fall.
Candidate Laurie Throness (L) Premier Christy Clark and former MLA Barry Penner with his daugher Fintry at the Coast Hotel.
Outside the hotel, a small handful of people opposed to logging in the upper reaches of the Chilliwack River Valley, saw the Liberal gathering as an opportunity to press them on the spotted owl issue.
The protest, deemed an information picket by organizers, had fewer people than there are spotted owls handing out literature and waving placards. According to some reports, only 12 of the illusive creatures are known to inhabit the old growth stands at Post Creek.
The area was on the "protected" list, and then later removed from it to allow for the logging of 17 cut-blocks, by then Minster of the Environment, MLA Barry Penner.
Activists were at the Hotel to get the message out on the spotted owl issue.
This has activists up in arms because they feel the owls and their habitat have been compromised purely for monetary reasons, a notion Penner categorically denies.
Some of the Liberal Party luminaries in attendance were Minister of Forests Rich Coleman, Minister of Community, Sport and Cultural Development Ida Chung, Minister of Health Mike de Jong, Kootenay East MLA Bill Bennet, North Vancouver-Seymour MLA Jane Thornwaite, Richmond-Steveston MLA John Yap, Chilliwack-Hope MLA John Les and Minister of Finance Colin Hansen among others.
MLA Barry Penner carried daughter Fintry in his arms, also his main reason for leaving politics after 16-17 years. The baby garnered a lot of attention and even some doting from Clark.
"When you meet my daughter and you meet my wife, you'll see that it's no contest why I'm leaving politics," said Penner.
When referring to Throness, Penner said "this is basically a hiring exercise and who you want to represent you... it's not about who's the most bombastic, and who can spread the most B.S. It's who has the analytical skills, the patience, the diligence, the perseverance, the character that best fits Chilliwack-Hope and I strongly feel that that person is Laurie Throness."
When former Conservative MP Chuck Strahl addressed the crowd, he openly admitted to having had a BC Liberal membership card for "many years" and spoke glowingly of Penner and their time sharing an office together, quipping that Penner "used to be somebody — I know what that's like."
"He proved to be not only a stellar representative in the riding, he went on to become an extremely effective MLA and then went on to become, I think, one of the finest environment ministers this province has ever seen."
Strahl said that Throness worked for him as his legislative assistant during his term in office and cited him for his tenacity saying that he "always became the best at whatever he did."
Strahl detailed Throness' CV saying that he later became a research analyst for Preston Manning, the leader of the opposition party at the time, then later worked for Stockwell Day and also with Steven Harper.
Chilliwack MLA John Les speaks with TV reporters Saturday.
"He was Chief of Staff at Indian Affairs, and in Transport and Infrastructure, he worked for the health Department, he did research across the government on behalf of the party and everything he did, everything he touched, he excelled," said Strahl. "When you look at his education degree, he focused on public administration, serving the public and how to do it, and how to do it well."
In her speech, Clark referred to her own riding as the only byelection that's been won by a sitting government in 30-years.
"Those are tough things to win, those byelections. It's tough to make sure that we get our votes in the ballot boxes and it only happens one way — it happens when a team comes together and works shoulder-to-shoulder and we are going to have to really sweat to make this happen."
In politics, everyone is a "buddy" and when Throness took the floor, he referred to himself as the "new kid on the block", that despite knowing most of the politicians in the country, including three serving prime ministers through his work as a government analyst.
Former Conservative MP Chuck Strahl talks about Throness' experience.
Right off the bat, Throness tried to reel in BC Conservatives, referring to them as buddies, and by describing in historical context, the political allegiance called the Social Credit Party, that arose between parties, in order to stop the New Democrats some six decades ago.
"The NDP are a minority, most people don't want them."
The most that parties can hope for is a good turnout at the polls and that voter fatigue isn't a factor because for Chilliwack, its the third election race in the last year. Are we done yet?
© Copyright (c) 2012 The Valley Voice
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