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New federal party arrives in Kelowna

It appears voters in the Central Okanagan will have another party from which to choose in the next federal election.

That’s because the new People’s Party of Canada has officially set up a constituency association in the Kelowna area.

The party held its first constituency meeting this weekend and elected Kelowna businessman Daniel Joseph as its first constituency president.

“I want every constituent in Kelowna/Lake Country to know they have a party that is speaking for them, that is going to get them out there and get them engaged in government,” Joseph said.

The People’s Party of Canada is Maxime Bernier’s creation. The former Conservative leadership candidate launched the party last summer after calling the Conservative Party morally corrupt.

But it’s been a bumpy ride for Bernier. He’s been accused of racism because of his tough immigration policy.

Joseph, who is black, said Bernier and the party are not racist.

“Absolutely not, because I’m a visible minority, and they’ve welcomed me with open arms. There are other minorities that I’m working with as well. It has nothing to do with race,” Joseph said.

Other Okanagan politicians, like incumbent Liberal MP Stephen Fuhr, don’t see the PPC’s arrival in the area as a threat.

“Bernier’s new party doesn’t concern me at all, and I guess it’s a help because in a theoretical world, it will split the vote on the right, or it could,” Fuhr said.

Bernier wasn’t able to attend the Kelowna meeting. He was supposed to call in and offer words of encouragement, but that call never came. Bernier’s people said the leader was too busy.

The Kelowna-Lake Country PPC constituency hopes to have a candidate in place by January, leaving plenty of time to campaign before the next federal election in October.

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