Former city councillor Peter Sharp declared his intention on Monday to seek the B.C. Conservative nomination in Kamloops-South Thompson for next spring's provincial election.
Sharp said he agrees with party leader John Cummin's platform emphasis on fiscal responsibility and transparency in government.
"These are the same values I believe in and it's why I joined the B.C. Conservatives," Sharp said in Gaglardi Square, where he was flanked by his wife, friends and constituency executive members.
"I believe in change," he said. "There is no baggage attached, unlike the NDP and the Liberal party."
He said his political experience qualifies him to represent the riding. Liberal MLA Kevin Krueger's decision to quit politics convinced Sharp the time was right to seek the nomination.
"What concerns me is that Todd Stone (the Liberal nominee in Kamloops-South Thompson) is new to the scene, and so is the NDP candidate," he said.
NDP nominee Tom Friedman has never held elected office, though he did represent his party in the last election, polling 35 per cent of the vote compared to Krueger's 54 per cent.
"We have six months to go until the election and I believe that's ample time for the B.C. Conservatives to come out fighting."
Sharp pledged that a B.C. Conservative government would scrap the carbon tax introduced by the Liberals under Gordon Campbell. Residents outside of the Lower Mainland are penalized more by the tax since they are required to drive greater distances.
He also wants to stop what he termed "the revolving door court situation," and blamed cutbacks for the current backlog in the justice system.
He acknowledged that fiscal responsibility is an oft-repeated promise, but the governing records of both the NDP and the Liberals leave their priorities open to question.
"It sounds like a motherhood issue," he said, but pointed to a $30-billion deficit when the NDP left power a dozen years ago and a $50-billion deficit currently on the books. He held up excessive executive compensation of ICBC executives - as revealed recently by a government probe - as an example of a failure to rein in spending.
The Conservative's internal difficulties - Cummins was blindsided by a grass-roots revolt in September, when the party's sole elected representative, John Van Dongen, quit as well - were caused by a relative few, Sharp said.
"It was a handful of people who chose to challenge the leadership. I think that's been settled."
A retired RCMP officer, Sharp sat on City council from 1999 to 2005, during which time he was a City representative on the TNRD board and served on numerous committees. He has been defeated in council elections twice since then. He said he's never had a direct political affiliation provincially in the past, though he voted for the Liberals in previous elections.
He doesn't intend to begin campaigning immediately, while his competitors are already pounding the pavement.
"They're already out there, as I understand it. I won't be campaigning until after New Year's."
Alan Forseth, regional director for the B.C. Conservatives, said he's expecting another candidate for the South Kamloops nomination to step forward within days. A nomination vote will be held early in the new year.
© Kamloops Daily News