A column by Mel Rothenburger in the Kamloops News published on Feb. 11. 1977.
FOR SOMETHING THAT’S still many months away, the next federal election is shaping up to be one of the most interesting political battles in this city’s history.
Those who think they know what’s going on will tell you knowingly that the Conservative nomination will go to Doug Smith unless Don Couch gets himself up off his foundation, and it will be a battle between the Conservative candidate and Len Marchand, with the Tory having the upper hand.
The injection of “new blood” into local conservatism has not been without its costs. While Smith and Couch may belong to the same federal party, they are not of the same ilk.
It is being hinted around by supporters of Couch that the split is not one which can be repaired and that rather than being tarred with the Socred mentality brush, Couch may be talked into running as an Independent Conservative.
Let me say that again. Couch may be talked into running as an Independent Conservative.
Politically, it’s a rather nifty little plan that has a lot of merit. For no matter how many times they deny it, the local Progressive Conservative party has been declared by the public guilty by association with Social Credit. If Couch were to decide to get involved in the Socred vs. anti-Socred battle for the nomination he would still have the image to contend with come election time, and the party itself would have been hurt anyway.
So why not start clean? Take one’s true Conservative principles home and run unfettered by the problems which have beset the party?
There is also some speculation around about who the fourth candidate will be. Would you believe, Nelson Riis? That is not so hard to believe, and the thought of Nelson Riis as the NDP candidate is not pleasant to Liberal and Conservative alike.
Remember that Nelson tops the municipal polls with ease, and that he did so last November while having the guts to declare publicly during the campaign that Kamloops had “prospered incredibly” under the NDP provincial government.
While the NDP has never really been in the race federally here, it’s never been that far out of it either. Would enough people ignore his political affiliation and vote for Nelson Riis the man, letting him sneak through between the two major parties? Would he take more votes from Liberals than Conservatives, letting Smith win? Or would he take enough votes from both Liberals and the Conservative establishment, not getting enough himself but allowing Couch to be one of those rarities in Canadian politics: an independent MP?
Like I said, very interesting.
POST SCRIPT: Riis did not run federally until 1980 when he defeated incumbent Don Cameron.