Challenger upset with appointment

Graeme James blasted first-term Liberal MLA Norm Letnick’s recent appointment as agriculture minister

  • Sep. 28, 2012 5:00 p.m.

Alistair Waters

Black Press

The newly acclaimed B.C Conservative candidate for Kelowna-Lake Country wasted no time in firing his first verbal volley at the man he hopes to unseat in next May’s provincial election.

Graeme James blasted first-term Liberal MLA Norm Letnick’s recent appointment as agriculture minister, saying the job should have gone to someone with experience in agriculture.

And he added he feels the only reason Letnick got the job was because the Liberals are scared of losing the riding.

“The Liberals don’t have the support of the electorate anymore.”

In 2008, Letnick won the Kelowna-Lake Country riding with 52 per cent of the vote.

James called Letnick’s elevation to cabinet a political appointment aimed at currying favour with local voters.

“It speaks to the fact (the Liberals) are concerned about losing this riding,” said James.

James, who has a trades and business background and who owns a 10-acre farm, served on Kelowna city council for one term, from 2008 to 2011, before losing his seat as part of a massive change on council that saw the then incumbent mayor and five of her councillors replaced.

James announced a short time later that he would seek the B.C. Conservative nomination in Kelowna-Lake Country and started selling party memberships.

Following last weekend’s B.C. Conservative Party annual general meeting in Langley, James plans to start knocking on doors and talking to voters as he prepares for next spring’s election.

“I already have my election team in place,” he said. “We will hit the ground running.”

James has also thrown his support solidly behind embattled B.C. Conservative leader John Cummins, who survived a challenge to her leadership from within the party ranks at last weekend’s party convention.

Calling himself a “huge” supporter of Cummins, James credited Cummins for taking the B.C. Conservatives to 22 per cent in the polls from just two per cent a few years ago.

When asked for his rebuttal to James’ comments, Letnick simply shrugged off the criticism, adding no further comment.