Dan Ashton kicked off his campaign to become the Penticton MLA this week by pulling out all the stops, gathering together free enterprisers of a range of political affiliations at a fundraising dinner this week.
The guest list contained a number of past and present politicians, who took the microphone to publicly endorse Ashton, including former Okanagan Coquihalla MP Stockwell Day, who delivered a 20-minute-long speech endorsing both Ashton and the B.C. Liberal Party.
“Stock is a great guy and really well known in all the communities down here. We couldn’t have had better representation. They kind of broke the mould with Stock,” said Ashton.
Praise and endorsements for Ashton came fast and furious, starting with former Boundary-Similkameen MLA Jim Hewitt, who held the riding for Social Credit from 1976 to 1988. His message was straightforward.
“Read your brochures and talk to your friends and neighbours and let’s make sure that Dan Ashton is the next MLA for our riding,” said Hewitt, before making way for outgoing Liberal Penticton MLA Bill Barisoff to take the microphone.
“I want to endorse Dan fully,” said Barisoff. “It’s going to be a tougher election than we have had in the past … I want to say I could not think of a better person to be the next MLA for Penticton.”
Current Okanagan Coquihalla MP Dan Albas also endorsed Ashton, highlighting his experience working with Ashton on Penticton city council before handing the microphone off to Day, the evening’s headliner.
Day first pointed out the wide variety of supporters who had turned out for the dinner, which included Tom Siddon, a former Progressive Conservative cabinet minister.
“When you see cross-party support, cross-jurisdictional support like this, it says a lot for Dan,” said Day. “He knows how to get things done. He has a way of focusing on something, zeroing in on it and getting it done. In the regional district, and as mayor … you have one of the best, if not the best candidate in the entire province.”
Day said every level of government is important, putting municipal politics on the same level as regional, provincial and federal. However, he said he wasn’t surprised to see Ashton stepping up to the provincial stage now.
“Dan thinks things through and he understands the importance of timing, and so far, his approach has worked,” said Day. “I said to people many times that he had great capabilities. As much as I would be delighted to see him stay at the municipal level, he has great capabilities for the provincial level.”
For his part, Ashton was effusive in his praise for Day, saying that he had been a good teacher.
“Stock says it like it is and Stock cares. What I learned from Stock and Rick Thorpe and Bill Barisoff, is that you work together. If federal, municipal, provincial and regional work together, my gosh, we get so much done,” said Ashton, listing off joint projects like the Centre of Excellence at Okanagan College and the wastewater treatment plant.
“When you work together with people it makes a huge difference,” said Ashton. “When all levels of government work together, everybody benefits.”