B.C. election 2020: Boot attempts to unseat Ashton in Penticton

Click to play video: 'Penticton riding profile'
Penticton riding profile
Penticton riding profile – Oct 15, 2020

Toni Boot cast her ballot this week in a historic pandemic election.

The Summerland, B.C., mayor is taking a break from municipal politics to represent the NDP in the Penticton riding.

Boot is the city’s first Black mayor, and she recently found herself in the national spotlight after cutting up Confederate flag bandanas in front of a local Dollar Store.

“It’s about time I spoke up against this kind of behaviour,” she said of the July incident.

Click to play video: 'Power grab or the right time? South Okanagan voters react to snap election call'
Power grab or the right time? South Okanagan voters react to snap election call

Boot says she would bring a diverse voice to the legislature.

Story continues below advertisement

In Penticton, it’s a 4-way race.

Boot is running against Liberal incumbent Dan Ashton, retired pharmacist Ted Shumaker of the BC Green Party and software company owner Keith MacIntyre of the Libertarian party.

Read more: B.C. election 2020: Dan Ashton projected to win third term in Penticton

Read next: A talk with Merck Mercuriadis, the Canadian spending billions on acquiring song catalogues

“I don’t know that I can unseat Dan Ashton, but I do know that I am very pleased, honoured to be part of the BC NDP team,” she said, “and I think that in the three-and-a-half years that they have been in power with the assistance of the Greens, they have come up with some excellent policies and making it more affordable for all British Columbians.”

The riding was formed in 1991 from the old Similkameen electoral district and includes the communities of Peachland, Summerland and Chute Lake.

The Penticton electoral district includes the communities of Peachland and Summerland west of Okanagan Lake, and Naramata to the east. Global News

Voters in the Penticton city centre have tended to lean towards the NDP, while the suburbs and outlying communities have voted BC Liberal.

Story continues below advertisement
Click to play video: 'B.C. election 2020: Experts say political parties are using your data to target you for political ads online'
B.C. election 2020: Experts say political parties are using your data to target you for political ads online

The South Okanagan riding is considered a safe BC Liberal seat. Ashton defeated his NDP opponent in 2017 with a margin of victory of 24 per cent.

Fifty-six of B.C.’s 87 races in 2017 were closer than Penticton, while 28 of the 43 seats the BC Liberals won were tighter contests.

Read more: B.C. election: Penticton riding now a 4-way race

Read next: Snowfall warnings issued for parts of southern Ontario as more wintery weather moves in

The BC Liberals have held a version of the Penticton riding since 1996.

Ashton is a former two-term mayor of Penticton and served as a parliamentary secretary in Christy Clark’s government.

The Penticton resident, who is seeking a third term in office, declined to campaign on-camera, and said his strategy is to go remote.

Story continues below advertisement

“We made a collective decision to say no office, we didn’t want a campaign office,” Ashton said.

Click to play video: 'Child care election concerns'
Child care election concerns

Despite recent polls that suggest the NDP is on track to win a majority government, the long-time politician said there are benefits for constituents to have an MLA in opposition.

“They benefit by having someone who cares about the community, who grew up in the community, that has represented the community for years,” Ashton said.

Read more: B.C. election: NDP announce Smith, Kulik as Central Okanagan candidates

Read next: Tyre Nichols death: Canadians say it’s time to reflect on police actions in this country

There are two political newcomers entering the fray.

Shumaker said he is running for the BC Greens because he is against the snap election.

Story continues below advertisement

“I didn’t think this election call was right and I don’t think it’s in the spirit of democracy,” he said.

At this week’s all-candidates forum, the retiree said he wants to give voters an alternative choice at the ballot box.

Click to play video: 'B.C.’s chief electoral officer announces changes to election process during pandemic'
B.C.’s chief electoral officer announces changes to election process during pandemic

“My lack of experience in politics is my strength. I can listen, I can learn and the only people who tell me what I’m going to do are my voters,” Shumaker said.

MacIntyre said he is disillusioned with the state of Canadian politics and can be an independent voice at the table.

“The Libertarian party is not on a wing, it’s less authority, more freedom, lower taxes, smaller government. For me, it just resonated,” he told Global News.

Read more: Free transit on election day in the South Okanagan-Similkameen region

Read next: France’s plan to raise pension age ‘no longer negotiable’, prime minister says

Story continues below advertisement

On the issues, Ashton said he is running on his record: securing funding for the Penticton hospital expansion and more supportive housing projects.

His current priority is to re-start the economy.

“The biggest issue right now is trying to get through this pandemic and ensuring that people get back to work,” he said.

Boot said healthcare, housing affordability and child care are the biggest issues facing the riding.

Click to play video: 'How do you vote in the upcoming B.C. provincial election?'
How do you vote in the upcoming B.C. provincial election?

“Childcare is another thing that is critical is enabling people to get back to work,” she said.

MacIntyre said he’d advocate for regional COVID-19 restrictions and more personal freedoms amid the pandemic.

“I’m not saying that we should go have major concerts and start eating finger food and coughing on each other again,” he said, “but we need to look at things a little more strategically and look at the harm that we are doing with lost jobs, mental health issues, seniors care.”

Story continues below advertisement

Voters head to the polls on Oct. 24.

Find full B.C. 2020 provincial election coverage here.

Sponsored content