A Kitimat business owner has been chosen to represent the Conservative Party of Canada for the Skeena – Bulkley Valley riding in this fall’s federal election.
Claire Rattée defeated fellow Kitimat resident Jody Craven in voting held in four northwest communities over the weekend.
Voting was conducted in Prince Rupert, Terrace and Kitimat Feb. 16 with a final voting session in Smithers Feb. 17 after which all the ballots were counted.
Official results were not released.
Rattée, the co-owner of the Divineink tattoo business in Kitimat, was a District of Kitimat councillor between 2014 and 2018, the youngest person to be elected to a seat on the Kitimat council.
Rattée first announced her intentions to run for the Conservative party nomination in mid-2018. Craven, recently retired from Rio Tinto, followed a short time later.
Contacted on Tuesday, an elated Rattée said she was a bit nervous going into the election and hadn’t expected to win.
“While I’m not the typical candidate, people who came out to vote said they saw the need for change in the party,” said Rattée.
She said the message she received from voters was the need for the party to appeal to a younger generation of apathetic voters and that she was more relatable.
“I would like to try and change negative stigmas around our party. There’s a lot of bad publicity out there that makes people apathetic,” said Rattée.
She said one of her biggest priorities would be to turn the Skeena – Bulkley Valley riding back into a Conservative riding.
“I will be appealing to the voters that currently like MP Nathan Cullen,” said Rattée, who said Cullen hadn’t done much for resource development in the riding, something which had become evident to his supporters.
“The federal representative should have done what was best for his riding. I definitely didn’t feel that level of support from him.
“I would like to see effective federal representation for our riding. Resource development is an issue that the federal government needs to be involved in.”
She said the response to her win has been overwhelming, with people phoning wanting to get involved in her campaign.
“My biggest fear is that I won’t have the same level of connection with my constituents that I had when I served on the District of Kitimat council,” said Rattée.
Her first priority is a trip to Burnaby where she will be helping out in the by-election, after which she will return to Kitimat and start working on a game plan for herself.
Craven meanwhile said he understands he fell short by eight votes but did not have the official tally.
“It was pretty close,” said Craven in describing the balloting.
Craven said he enjoyed meeting people from all over the riding and hearing their stories and about issues affecting them.
“It was an eye-opener,” Craven added.
As to whether he’ll support Rattée as the Conservative candidate and work on the campaign leading to the Oct. 21 vote, Craven declined to comment.
He did say he felt name recognition was key to becoming a winning candidate.
Three other people also wanted to run for the nomination but were turned down by party officials. Reasons why Vanderhoof educator Gerald Caron, Terrace business owner MaryAnn Freeman and University of Northern British Columbia employee Manon Joice were turned down have not been disclosed.