A byelection might become necessary in Nanaimo’s federal riding and it might not, but either way, the Conservatives have their candidate in place.
The Conservative Party of Canada’s local membership held a nomination contest on Saturday and John Hirst was selected as the party’s candidate for Nanaimo-Ladysmith.
According to a press release from the riding association, Hirst’s win over challenger Jennifer Clarke was “convincing.” Hirst told the News Bulletin that receiving strong support from the membership meant a lot.
“If we’re to put up a serious, successful campaign for the general election, it’s going to take a lot of people pulling together to make it happen,” he said. “And that’s kind of what I campaigned on, is being a ‘big tent’ kind of person where Conservatives of all walks and backgrounds are welcome.”
He said his ability to collaborate and work well with others are among his strengths. Hirst, born and raised in Nanaimo, is an associate manager with Sun Life Financial and president of the Nanaimo Gyro Club.
“I really felt going into this, I could help pull the pieces together that we’re going to need to put up a strong showing,” he said.
Hirst was in Halifax for the Conservative Party’s most recent national convention and thought party leader Andrew Scheer spoke well there. Hirst suggested that when Canadians compare Prime Minister Justin Trudeau to Scheer, the Conservative leader will contrast favourably.
“I liked what he had to say and I think he has a good message,” Hirst said.
The Conservative candidate said he decided to seek the 2019 nomination before the recent sequence of events in Nanaimo municipal, provincial and federal politics, with Nanaimo-Ladysmith MP Sheila Malcolmson now seeking the NDP nomination for Nanaimo’s provincial riding. Depending on the timing of the provincial byelection, there is a chance that a federal byelection could become necessary.
“I think we’re prepared for either eventuality,” Hirst said. “It’s one of those things that’s outside our control, quite frankly. We could worry about it or hope for one way or another, but the cards are going to land where they land.”
Mark MacDonald, president of the Nanaimo-Ladysmith Conservative Electoral District Association, said in the press release that Hirst ran an exemplary campaign.
“He was positive, thoughtful and demonstrated that he is a candidate that our constituency can be proud of and rally behind in the next federal election,” MacDonald said.