Opinion: Conservative nomination not what it used to be

Shouldn’t they be lining up by now?

From Kerry-Lynne Findlay and John Cummins to Stan Wilbee and Tom Siddon, Delta had long been a haven for right-of-centre federal politicians. Being the flag bearer for the right wing party of choice meant an automatic ticket to Ottawa, so securing that nomination was paramount, evidenced by the events of eight years ago this month.

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Back in March of 2011, the Conservatives in Delta-Richmond East hastily put together a nomination meeting less than two weeks after MP John Cummins announced he was retiring from federal politics. There was some advance warning of both a snap election and that Cummins could be calling it a career after 18 years, but the speed at which the meeting was arranged was unusual to say the least.

Despite that ever-so-small window, five candidates threw their hats into the ring in search of one of the most coveted nominations in all of the province, if not the country. After all, Cummins had won the 2008 election with a whopping 16,000-vote margin over his nearest challenger while collecting 55 per cent of the popular vote. It stood to reason the winner of the party’s nomination would cruise to victory in the spring election, which is exactly what happened six weeks later when Kerry-Lynne Findlay finished 15,000 votes clear of the second place candidate.

Fast-forward eight years and the landscape, both physically and politically, has changed. The riding has been reconfigured, the Richmond East portion having been swapped for North Delta, and it’s now represented by a Liberal for the first time in almost half a century. With the writ set to be dropped six months from now, the big question in Delta is whether the Conservatives can reclaim the riding or Carla Qualtrough can retain the seat for Trudeau and Co.

The fact that question is even being asked would suggest we’re in uncharted territory. Couple that with the fact not a single person has yet to publicly announce their intention to seek the Conservative nomination and it’s clear this is no longer 2011.

That doesn’t mean the Conservatives can’t pull it off, particularly if the SNC Lavalin affair continues to drag on Liberal fortunes, it just means the days of the slam dunk are long over.

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