Mark Strahl to seek Tory nomination

Mark Strahl, the son of Conservative MP Chuck Strahl, has announced his bid for the party’s nomination in the Chilliwack-Fraser Canyon riding.

Mark Strahl, the son of Conservative MP Chuck Strahl, has announced his bid for the party’s nomination in the Chilliwack-Fraser Canyon riding.

Strahl, 32, said he will step down as president of the Conservative Party’s riding association to seek the nomination.

He said he hopes to bring the same “perspective and passion” to the job as his father, who announced Saturday that he’s leaving politics.

“The members of the Chilliwack-Fraser Canyon will choose their candidate very soon, and I’ll be working hard to earn their support,” Strahl said in a news release.

“I know our riding, and I know our members,” he said. “I believe I have the experience and the knowledge necessary to be a successful Conservative candidate.”

With the departure of Strahl’s “unbeatable” father from the political scene, New Democrats in the riding are calling the next federal election “a real horse race.”

Dick Harrington, campaign manager for Gwen O’Mahony, the NDP candidate in the riding, said he expects “at least one-third of all the Conservative votes that once went to Chuck Strahl will be up for grabs.”

But although Strahl’s affable personality certainly contributed to his electability – this is also a solidly conservative area, both federally and provincially.

Chilliwack MLA John Les said he has no interest in running for the Conservative nomination.

“Not, zip, zilch, not at all,” he said, in a telephone interview Monday.

Partly because of the “grueling” schedule Strahl followed flying back and forth between Ottawa and Chilliwack for 18 years, he said, but also because he had no wish to start a new career at the federal level.

“Stephen Harper has his work cut out for him,” Les added, to find replacements for Strahl and for MP Stockwell Day, who also announced his resignation from politics Saturday.

He said both MPs are veteran politicians with provincial and national profiles, and their departure “leaves big holes to be filled, no question about it.”

Chilliwack-Hope MLA Barry Penner said Strahl “carried significant clout in Ottawa, representing not just our constituency, but our country.”

He also said Strahl was a “significant influence” in provincial politics as well.

“He was well-regarded by provincial ministers, and by Premier Campbell.”

Veteran NDP campaign manager Al Ens, president of the party’s federal riding association, said Strahl had to be congratulated for his long service to the Fraser Valley.

“I think Chuck was an honest MP,” he said Monday. “I think he went into politics connected to his beliefs … not for any kind of personal gain.”

He said whoever becomes the next Conservative candidate, they will find “a real popular candidate” in O’Mahony, who has been active campaigning for the past year, knocking on doors and attending public meetings.