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Meet the South Okanagan-West Kootenay candidates who want your votes

PENTICTON — One of the longest federal election campaigns in recent memory is underway, but some of the candidates in the new South Okanagan – West Kootenay riding have already been hitting the campaign trail for more than a year now.

NDP candidate Richard Cannings didn’t need an official election call to start spreading the orange wave. He’s been meeting with citizens since January 2014.

“We’ll just keep on doing what we’ve been doing: knocking on doors and talking to people throughout the riding. People are fed up with the Conservatives and want change, and we’re ready to deliver that change,” he says.

Cannings is a biologist and author who hopes to win over voters with his background.

“I’m an ecologist. I got into this because I was concerned with the Conservatives gutting environmental regulations, muzzling scientists and total inaction on climate change. So I thought parliament needed another voice that would bring a different perspective  to those topics and more,” he says.

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Liberal candidate Connie Deneisuk hopes to make headway in this new riding.

“The Okanagan has traditionally been Conservative and the West Kootenay has traditionally been NDP. So we have two very different perspectives: the right and the left. What I bring to the table is the middle; I bring people together,” says Deneisuk.

She says she has experience representing people’s concerns having served on several boards, including the Okanagan-Skaha School District Board, the B.C. School Trustees Association and the Canadian School Board Association.

“I wanted to talk to as many people as I could so I could get a good handle on this riding. We have more than 40 communities here being represented in the South Okanagan – West Kootenay and it’s essential that those voices be heard,” she says.

Conservative candidate Marshall Neufeld wasn’t available for an interview. His campaign manager told Global News Neufeld is busy because of Peachfest.

So like his counterpart in the North Okanagan – Shuswap, Neufeld sent a written statement.

It says in part: “My desire is to serve the people of our communities and further their priorities. Under the leadership of Prime Minister Stephen Harper, Canada has weathered economic instability with our Conservative plan of low taxes, a balanced budget, economic growth, and benefits provided directly to families. ”

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Independent Brian Gray says he’s the dark horse in this election race with a clear mission to restore the so-called 4-pillars banking regulations, re-establish the space program and eliminate the support for the British monarchy.

“I’m running to get ideas out there that Canadians need to know about or we can basically walk past the graveyard at midnight  histling because we’re not going to change anything,” says Gray.

The Green Party has yet to find a candidate for this riding but says it plans to have candidates in every riding. Nominations for candidacy close at the end of September.