Former Conservative MP David Wilks announced he is seeking the nomination for the Liberal MLA seat. His announcement came days after current MLA Bill Bennett announced he would not be seeking re-election in the 2017 provincial election.
Wilks believes his views align with the BC Liberal party and has the experience to be an effective MLA for the area.
“The BC Liberal party is a party of conservatives and liberals and I feel very comfortable with their policy. With Bill Bennett announcing his retirement last week, I believe that I have the experience and I have the knowledge to go forward with the provincial politics,” he said. “Because I have the knowledge of the municipal and regional government, both as the Mayor of the District of Sparwood and as the Chair of the RDEK, and then working at the federal level, I know a lot of the people involved – in fact, most of them – and I believe that I can make a difference.”
Wilks was an RCMP officer before starting a career in public office. He was first elected as a Councillor for the District of Sparwood in 2002. He sat in the Mayor’s seat from 2005 until 2011, when he ran for MP under Stephen Harper’s Conservatives. Wilks saught re-election in the 2015 federal election but narrowly lost to NDP candidate Wayne Stetski by a mere 285 votes.
Wilks spoke to his priorities for the area, if elected has MLA, including environmental issues surrounding Lake Koocanusa and the Flathead area.
“We must continue to make sure [the Flathead] is still a vibrant area and people have access to it. The City of Cranbrook needs to continue to be the hub for the East Kootenays and we have to make sure they continue to have the services available for all people in the Kootenays and Fernie with its tourism base, we have to ensure that they continue to thrive in that area.”
Wilks also spoke to the Dominion Coal Blocks, which are currently under federal ownership. He would like to see the ownership of two coal blocks located northeast of Fernie be divested from the Federal government.
“I believe that is something that is an asset certainly for the Elk Valley, certainly from the perspective of coal extraction.”
While there is no set date for the Liberal party to hold voting for the nomination, Wilks believes it will be held sometime in late September or early October. Until then, Wilks hopes to generate interest in his campaign by selling memberships to the BC Liberal Party.
“The whole process of the nominations is selling memberships. That is what it is all about because only those people can vote in the nomination,” he said.
People are eligible to vote if they are a registered member of the Liberal Party at least 28 days prior to the selection of the MLA. The provincial election is set for May 9, 2017.