Three of the challengers hoping to unseat Conservative incumbent MP Russ Hiebert in the upcoming federal election have decidedly Tory roots themselves.
White Rock’s Aart Looye, a community volunteer and event organizer, is running as an independent Conservative to unseat the South Surrey-White Rock-Cloverdale MP.
Another is Hardy Staub, 70, a former mayor of White Rock who’s thrown his hat in the ring as the federal Liberal candidate.
Staub was a federal Conservative Party member until recently. But he’s critical of Hiebert’s representation in Ottawa.
“I’m not a yes-man and I’ll do the job that people are paying me to do,” said Staub, who’s also not happy the Conservative constituency association isn’t permitted to put forward alternative nominees to challenge Hiebert for the riding.
Looye said a key issue in his platform is “quick and meaningful responses to constituents’ needs.”
He also said his “seasoned and proven background in governance, negotiations and economic development will provide (the riding) with the leadership we require in the next session of parliament.”
Hiebert, 42, was first elected in 2004, and was returned to office in 2006 as part of the Conservative’s second minority government.
He faced criticism last year for high travel expenses, and earned swift arrows from his opponents Monday, when his campaign literature
arrived in mailboxes across the riding, prompting allegations that they were mailed out before the election call.
Also on the Conservative side of the political spectrum is Christian Heritage Party of Canada candidate Mike Schouten, who’s been in the race to unseat Hiebert the longest.
He won his party’s nomination back in the fall of 2009.
Schouten is a former Conservative Party member who became disillusioned with Hiebert and leader Stephen Harper for abandoning conservative fiscal and moral values in an effort to win majority governments.
With so many candidates carving out conservative turf in the riding, the election’s “not going to be a walk in the park for Mr. Hiebert, that’s for sure,” said Schouten, a father of five who is a grower-manager at Burnaby Lake Greenhouses and lives in Cloverdale.
Larry Colero is the Green Party of Canada’s candidate here. Colero is a management consultant and MBA who taught business ethics at UBC and SFU. He lives in White Rock.
He’ll be inviting constituents to join him in upcoming open telephone discussions.
New Democratic Party candidate Susan Keeping, a White Rock resident, is executive director of the Newton Advocacy Group Society. In 2008, she received the YWCA’s Women of Distinction Award for her volunteer work with Vibrant Surrey, Surrey Homelessness and Housing Task Force, the Save Our Daughters Coalition and the United Way.
She was acclaimed at the NDP’s riding association nomination meeting early last month.
Election day is May 2. The electoral district has 89,927 eligible voters and a population of 111,756.
In 2008, Hiebert won with 56.6 per cent of the vote, beating out nearest competitor, Liberal Judy Higginbotham, who garnered 20.1 per cent of the vote.
For more information, visit elections.ca.
– With files by Alex Brown, Black Press