The candidates for MLA in Columbia River-Revelstoke

Liberals, Conservatives, Greens face uphill battle to unseat NDP in Columbia River-Revelstoke

Doug Clovechok running for Liberals, Earl Olsen for Conservatives, Laurel Ralston for Greens in attempt to unseat NDP's Norm Macdonald.

The last two times Norm Macdonald ran for to be the MLA for Columbia River–Revelstoke, he was running as someone who was likely to be an opposition member. Now, running for the third time, he is someone who is likely to be a major player in a potential NDP government.

With the election campaign officially underway, polls have the NDP looking at a comfortable majority, and Macdonald is expected to win his seat.

Eric Grenier, who runs the political website, gives the NDP a 92 per cent chance of winning the election, and has Macdonald polling at 52.8 per cent.

“I can’t speak to that riding specifically, but given how well the NDP is doing in the polls and how badly the Liberals are faring, it seems extremely unlikely that any NDP incumbent who won by a good margin in 2009 will be in any danger, particularly in a riding like Columbia River–Revelstoke where a Conservative will be on the ballot,” he told the Times Review in an e-mail.

His view was echoed by two other pundits contacted by the Times Review. Alice Funke, who runs the website, said she has not seen Columbia River–Revelstoke mentioned as a swing seat in any election coverage nor by her political contacts. Sacha Peter, who runs the website, said it take a “province-wide monumental catastrophe for the BC NDP” for Macdonald to lose his seat.

“[In 2005 and 2009] it was clear to most people that they were electing an opposition member,” Macdonald said in an interview last week. “I think it’s fair to say at this time that most would be expecting to elect a member of an NDP government. I think that changes the campaign somewhat. What is important to me is to make sure its absolutely clear during the election exactly what I intend to do and what the NDP intend to do.”

Doug Clovechok (centre, wearing a suit jacket) gathers with supporters

to launch his Revelstoke campaign on Tuesday afternoon.

Macdonald’s main rival in the campaign will be Doug Clovechok of the BC Liberal Party. Clovechok, was an educator and administrator in Calgary’s public education system and is now the manager of the Invermere campus of the College of the Rockies.

He has been criss-crossing the riding in recent months trying to raise his profile and painting himself as someone who can get things done for his constituents. He has made a number of appearances alongside Liberal cabinet ministers, including Premier Christy Clark. He said he’s put 17,000 kilometres on a Toyota Prius that was donated to the campaign by a local car dealership.

He is scheduled to be in Revelstoke to open his campaign on Tuesday, Apr. 16, a, and will be here for several days talking to people and seeking votes. “My focus is going to be on the economy and the creation of jobs and what our party will be doing,” he said. “From a riding perspective I’m going to be talking about the need to generate a stronger economy.”

Clovechok said that if elected, he plans on setting up advisory boards throughout the riding that would provide guidance to him as an MLA. He would also have members of each board meet several times a year so different communities know what’s going on throughout the riding. “The intent is to bring the riding together and start to benchmark and share ideas.”

“I’ve already been able to show what can be done by an MLA, who’s not an MLA, by bringing people together and getting people in the right situations,” he said. “I’m a doer, I get things done and that’s what people are starting to realize.”

The third candidate is Earl Olsen, a semi-retired accountant, who will be running for the Conservative Party. Olsen moved to Fairmont Hot Springs from Alberta, where he was a partner in a firm that owned large printing plants in Calgary and Edmonton. He serves as a volunteer firefighter in Fairmont and said this is his first time getting involved in politics.

As the clear underdog (Eric Grenier pegs his support at 13.5 per cent) He said he wants people to know that there is an alternative to the two major parties. With a limited budget for advertising, he will also be going door-to-door to introduce himself to voters.

He said he will be promoting a policy of low taxes and fiscal responsibility to drive growth in the region and stop people from leaving the area.

“If we don’t do something to grow the economy and make it economically vibrant, that’s the biggest challenge I think we have,” he said. “I think its tragic an area like ours struggles to keep young people in it and realistically has limited futures.”

Laurel Ralston, the president of the Kimberley Arts Council, will represent the Green Party of BC, confirmed a party coordinator on April 16.

Ralston, a resident of Kimberley, has served at the Kimberley Arts Council president since 2009. Her social media profile lists her occupation and writer and editor at Laurel Ralston Writing and Editing. She’s worked as an outreach coordinator with environmental group Wildsight, and has also several credits in local arts organizations.

Ralston ran unsuccessfully for Kimberley city council in 2011, finishing 10th.

The Times Review has put in a request to speak with Ralston, but has not been in contact with her yet.

Norm Macdonald opens his campaign office in Revelstoke without about 40 supporters in attendance on Sunday.

Macdonald, who served as the NDP’s forestry critic, was in Revelstoke on Sunday to officially open the NDP campaign office on First Street West. On Monday he was in Prince George with NDP leader Adrian Dix to announce the party’s forestry policy. Mostly though, he plans on spending the campaign going door-to-door throughout the riding drumming up votes.

“This is where you’re going to people,” he said. “You do come out of the process with a clear idea of what people really think.”

With eight years of opposition experience behind him, Macdonald said he’s enjoyed working with constituents, but “I welcome the opportunity to be in the heart of a new NDP government. I think that opens up a whole host of new opportunities for Revelstoke and for taking our issues forward.”


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