Hillyer stands behind decision to run in Medicine Hat

Lethbridge MP Jim Hillyer makes no apologies for not reaching out to his Conservative colleague sooner.

“My real focus is deciding what I think is best for the people I represent,” said Hillyer, who is being forced to defend his announcement of intending to run for re-election in the Medicine Hat riding.

The current Member of Parliament there, LaVar Payne, said Monday he was upset that he wasn’t told about the move until after the announcement.

“It was interesting. He sent out the press release, talked to the media, then I think he decided he should call me,” Payne said. “I’m quite disappointed he didn’t phone me ahead of time to say this is what he’s going to do.”

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Hillyer admits he didn’t reach out to Payne until after the announcement had already been made.

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It all stems from new federal electoral boundaries, which mean Hillyer, who lives in Raymond, will no longer be a resident of the Lethbridge riding, but rather Medicine Hat.

According to University of Lethbridge political scientist Geoffrey Hale, two sitting MPs in the same constituency isn’t out of the ordinary.

“This happens occasionally when two members can not work out an amicable way of either dividing the boundaries or finding a relatively competitive seat to run in,” said Hale.

The Canada Elections Act doesn’t require you live in the same riding you represent, so while it may be a less than ideal situation the next two years, the Lethbridge MP believes his work will remain the same no matter the boundaries.

“We’re neighbouring MPs, we have many of the same concerns,” said Hillyer. “The arbitrary line that divides (Payne’s) riding from my riding doesn’t change the world when you cross that line.

As for hedging bets on who gets the Conservative nomination in 2015, Hale believes it will be a competitive race.

“At the end of the day it comes down to who signs up the most memberships and gets the most people out to vote.”

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