The only declared candidate for the Brandon-Souris Liberal nomination has withdrawn from the race, and has now set his sights on Dauphin-Swan River-Neepawa.
Ray Piché was frustrated that the Brandon-Souris Federal Liberal Association was not prepared to have a nomination meeting until the fall, after it had been originally slated for June.
"I have to move forward," he said. "I wasn’t prepared to wait that long."
Piché, a retired RCMP constable, announced his intention to seek the Brandon-Souris nomination back in February.
"After I withdrew from Brandon-Souris … I just didn’t think I was going to be running," Piché said on Friday. "Then a couple weeks after … (the Dauphin-Swan River-Neepawa) association approached me to see if I would consider it."
Lorna Liddle, president of the DSRN Federal Liberal Association, said two potential candidates for the riding fell through. When they saw Piché withdrew, they decided to ask him if he would be interested in being their candidate.
"I thought, well this is a really good candidate and his wife (Leita) is from Neepawa," Liddle said.
Dauphin-Swan River-Neepawa will be the expanded riding’s name in the next federal election, which is expected to be called for October 2015.
The riding is currently
named Dauphin-Swan River-Marquette.
After some thought, Piché decided to put his name forward for the riding located north of Brandon. The nomination meeting is set for Aug. 11, and he will be uncontested.
"(We’re) very excited," Liddle said. "He is a good candidate, he knows the area, he knows the politics of what’s going on, the two of them are excellent at knowing what has to be done and getting it done."
Piché’s work with the Manitoba Liquor Control Commission takes him throughout the riding, and he has family connections in Neepawa, so he said it seemed like a good fit. Piché owns a home in Brandon as well as in Onanole — bought nearly five years ago with the intent to retire there.
He stressed there is no bad blood between him and the Brandon-Souris association.
"We just didn’t agree on a date, that’s all there is," he said. "I understand it’s a bit of a hill that I have to climb here for doing the switch but I also want to do it in a very positive way."
Laurie Jackson, president of the Brandon-Souris Federal Liberal Association, said the decision to delay the nomination meeting until the fall was made to drum up more interest and excitement.
"The (association) was really wanting to look at an open nomination, and feeling like people hadn’t had enough time," Jackson said.
Currently, there are no Brandon-Souris candidates, but Jackson said she is optimistic.
"There are people out there … that are giving it serious thought," she said. "We continue to believe that this is a riding that we can win and certainly Ottawa signals that as well."
Rolf Dinsdale, the Liberal candidate in the Brandon-Souris 2013 byelection, previously told the Brandon Sun he plans to seek the nomination again in 2015, but hasn’t made it official.
Dinsdale lost to Conservative MP Larry Maguire by 391 votes last November.
When contacted by the Brandon Sun on Friday, Dinsdale said he’s still considering running again, but hasn’t made a decision.
He has homes in Manitoba and Ontario and commutes back and forth, but says Brandon is where he has been spending most of his time since the byelection.
"I have some important business which requires me to spend time in Toronto — my young daughter lives there, and she is my top priority," he said. "But at the moment, she is out visiting me and my family in Manitoba for a few weeks, so ‘being daddy’ is what is on my agenda right now."
Cory Szczepanski, the Brandon-Souris NDP candidate in the 2013 byelection, won’t be seeking the nomination in the next election. Szczepanski has moved to Saskatchewan for a job opportunity.
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