Helena Konanz is looking to take a step out of Penticton City Hall and into Parliament, officially placing her bid for the Conservative Party candidacy.
Konanz made the announcement to a packed room in the Bufflehead Restaurant Thursday afternoon, with a slew of local dignitaries present.
“I have met with (Conservative leader) Andrew Scheer and see an exciting new vision for the Conservative Party and in that way building a stronger Canada. I believe that the riding of the South Okanagan—West Kootenay needs to be part of that vision,” Konanz said.
“To do that, we need a strong and proven candidate who can share the vision locally and, more importantly, be the voice for this region in Ottawa.”
A variety of current and former politicians backed Konanz on a podium, including Central Okanagan—Similkameen—Nicola Conservative MP Dan Albas; Regional District of Okanagan Similkameen director and former Progressive Conservative MP Tom Siddon; and former B.C. Liberal MLA Rick Thorpe.
Among the other endorsements, Penticton MLA Dan Ashton and former MLAs Jim Hewitt and Bill Barasoff are quoted showing support on a press package.
Konanz said she will be touring the riding over the summer to canvass the constituency for issues to bring to Ottawa ahead of the Conservative Party’s nomination meeting in the riding, likely to be held in the fall. At her announcement, she spoke foremost on the issue of small businesses.
“Last summer, we heard the prime minister and his finance minister launch an attack on small business in the community. They said small business owners should not be able to pass dividend income to capital partners if they are family members and basically accused small business owners of being tax cheats and of not paying our share,” Konanz said.
Last year, the governing Liberal Party announced tax changes for small businesses, including one that would bar paying family members who are not working at that business. Proponents say the move prevents small business owners from paying lower tax rates by shifting the taxes to family members who don’t contribute to the business.
Konanz said she is championing the cause of small businesses as a small business owner herself.
“We Konanzes are a family of entrepreneurs, so we understand what it’s like to be threatened by government policies that undermine small business,” she said.
Having experience as a city councillor for seven years, Konanz said she would be a stronger candidate than Marshall Neufeld, who is also running for the spot a second time after losing the 2015 election to NDP MP Richard Cannings.
On the NDP incumbent, Konanz had praise for Cannings, but took issue with the party leader’s lack of a seat in the House of Commons and cast doubt on the party’s future.
As for her own party leader, Andrew Scheer — who has come under fire recently in national media for distorting facts on a variety of topics, from the carbon tax and income taxes to a swing set for the prime ministerial summer home — Konanz had high praise.
“Andrew Scheer, I have a lot of confidence in him, and I’m ready to follow him at this point. I think people like to criticize politicians quite a bit, and I have a lot of respect for him.”