New Westminster News Leader

Forseth gets Conservative nod in New West

Paul Forseth -
Paul Forseth
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The BC Conservatives announced Friday what many in New Westminster assumed was already a done deal, declaring former MP Paul Forseth as the party's candidate in the May 14 provincial election.

"I am ecstatic that Paul will be working with us in the weeks and months leading up to the May election," said BC Conservative leader John Cummins in a press release. "He and I worked together in Ottawa for many, many years, and I deeply appreciate his intellect and dedication, and long service on behalf of British Columbians."

While Forseth, a New Westminster resident, has been running a website, with the headline "BC Conservative candidate New Westminster," for a few months, he had yet to be officially listed on the provincial party's website as a candidate until Friday.

"I still have not left federal politics, I'm still involved, I'm a conservative and I promote conservative values as much as I can," said Forseth when asked why the switch to the provincial scene.

Forseth is convinced the BC Liberals' days are numbered in this province and the Conservatives will be poised to take over that side of the political spectrum.

"There's got to be a clear conservative choice and throughout the interior and the north, those people are not going to give the Liberals another pass, so it's over for the party as well as the Liberal government," said Forseth. "The [right wing] coalition is long over."

Forseth predicted Premier Christy Clark's career will go the way of two women politicians who ascended to office after assuming the party leadership, one as a premier and the other as prime minister, but were ousted in their first election as leader.

"She'll be the Rita Johnson or Kim Campbell of this [generation]," said Forseth.

He indicated environmental, transportation, crime, social services and health care are all issues important to New Westminster. But, he added, to pay for fixing all of those things the province needs to generate economic growth.

While other parties ask their MLAs to toe the party line on issues, Forseth said he will vote on what's best for New Westminster.

"I have to boost New Westminster's interests rather than necessarily party interests. The NDP candidate will be toeing the party line and wouldn't have the freedom to vote the way she wants," said Forseth. "The Conservatives will be much more consultative and vote with the constituents' wishes. Regardless of the party line I will vote locally."

Forseth served as MP for 12 years, first getting elected as a Reform Party candidate in 1993 and 1997, then with the Canadian Alliance in 2000 and the federal Conservative party in 2004. But in 2006, he was defeated by New Democrat Dawn Black, who is the current MLA for New Westminster, in the riding of New Westminster-Coquitlam.

Forseth ran again for the Conservatives in the 2011 federal election in the Burnaby-New Westminster riding, finishing second to the NDP's Peter Julian.

Black has decided to retire rather than run again and the NDP has nominated former union leader Judy Darcy as its candidate. The BC Liberal Party has chosen Hector Bremner to be its candidate while the Green Party has nominated teacher Terry Teather.

As of Friday, the BC Conservatives had announced 27 candidates, 26 of them men.

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