The field for the Conservative nomination in Battlefords-Lloydminster has grown as another candidate has thrown his hat into the ring.
And it is literally a cowboy hat, as longtime North Battleford resident Ken Finlayson has entered the race.
Finlayson announced his candidacy Oct. 13 on his campaign’s Facebook page. Finlayson has wide-ranging background as a rodeo cowboy, in ranching, agriculture, sales, and more recently truck driving. He’s also been involved in his community in various organizations including 4-H and the Battlefords Ag Society, among others.
He feels that varied background has allowed him to meet ordinary people – labourers, workers in the fields, people in the oil patch – and learn what their issues are.
“I think I have a pretty good take on what our issues are in the West, in agriculture, in the oil fields. I see how many jobs are impacted,” said Finlayson.
Now he says he is ready to take on another challenge: taking over the Battlefords-Lloydminster seat recently vacated by fellow Conservative Gerry Ritz.
“I am at the point in my life now where I can devote myself exclusively to something like this,” said Finlayson. “This is my complete focus.”
Finlayson is joining what is a crowded field for the Conservative nomination, with at least a half-dozen candidates already running from different parts of the riding.
The date for the nomination meeting has not been scheduled yet and the date for the by-election hasn’t been set, either. The Prime Minister has until April 1 at the latest to call a by-election for Battlefords-Lloydminster.
This is not Finlayson’s first political run. He has been active in Conservative politics for years, going back to his involvement in the Reform Party when he campaigned for Gerry Ritz.
At one point he sought the federal nomination in Cypress Hills-Grasslands but found out quickly that policies and platforms take a back seat to organizing and getting members out to vote.
“I thought all you needed was good intentions. Turns out it’s the smallest part of it,” Finlayson said of the experience.
But Finlayson can also point to ties to the other political parties. He was born, he said, into a Liberal family. Finlayson even ran provincially for the party – as a “Lynda Haverstock Liberal”, he carefully pointed out, in the 1991 election.
Finlayson also noted his own family were friends with Eiling Kramer, the former longtime provincial NDP cabinet minister from the Battlefords, even though they had different political views.
“My family, and Eiling, always had the good sense not to let politics get in the way of a friendship,” said Finlayson.
When it comes to his own politics, however, Finlayson’s ideas are very much in line with Conservative ideas and principles.
Finlayson said he typically subscribes to Thomas Jefferson’s statement that “government should only do that which the people couldn’t otherwise do for themselves.”
He is not a big fan of government regulation of industry, and describes the regulatory regime applied to particularly oil and gas as “a lot more stringent than all our competitors.”
He also believes the regulations should be set by people within the industries who have some insight into it.
“The regulations are being set by people who don’t have any direct involvement with the industry,” said Finlayson. “There seems to be an inverse relationship between how little you’re involved with any industry and how much you have to say about it.”
Like other Conservatives, Finlayson has condemned the recent cancellation of the Energy East pipeline and blamed it on excessive Trudeau government regulations for downstream emissions.
“They’ve denied us access to tidewater on both ends of the country. And Trudeau, and his friend [Rachel] Notley in Alberta, have even encouraged it with their policies,” said Finlayson.
Notably, Finlayson is not a supporter of supply management. Finlayson said the policy “breeds inefficiencies” and points to the inflated costs of dairy products that result from it.
“The price of milk, I would think that’s kind a motherhood issue,” said Finlayson. “It’s not a big deal for somebody with a lot of money, but you know what? For struggling mothers and households, it is,” said Finlayson.
While Finlayson has plenty of ideas, he believes policies will be less of a focus in the nomination period and more of a factor in the election campaign that follows against the Liberals and NDP. Finlayson expects there will be wide agreement on the issues from candidates in the nomination race and believes the choice will boil down to the question of who is going the most effective representative for the Conservatives.
“Even though we’re all candidates, we’re all singing from the same song sheet, because we’re all Conservatives,” said Finlayson.
“It’s a question of who can deliver on the policies and principles we believe in, who’ll be the most effective. And to be effective you need to be passionate about it. I think I am.”