Election signs are appearing around Summerland and other Okanagan communities as the Sept. 20 federal election campaign is now officially underway. (John Arendt - Black Press Media)

Similkameen communities have been represented by Conservatives, New Democrats and Liberals

Variety of candidates have been elected in past federal elections

  • Aug. 25, 2021 12:00 a.m.

Communities in the Similkameen have been represented by a Conservative Member of Parliament in recent years, but this has not always been the case.

In the past, communities including Princeton and Keremeos have been part of a riding won by the New Democratic Party.

The incumbent in the Sept. 20 election is Dan Albas, who has been the Conservative MP for the Similkameen since the riding Central Okanagan-Similkameen-Nicola was first contested in 2015.

Previously, the Similkameen communities were part of the riding of British Columbia Southern Interior, which extended from Princeton and Keremeos in the west to Oliver and Osoyoos, Greenwood, Grand Forks and numerous communities in the West Kootenay including Trail, Nelson and Kaslo.

Alex Atamanenko of the New Democratic Party represented this riding from 2006 until his retirement in 2015.

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In the 2004 federal election, Jim Gouk of the Conservatives won the riding, narrowly defeating Atamanenko. Gouk received 36.6 per cent support while Atamanenko received 35.1 per cent.

Gouk also won as a Reform candidate in 1997, when he received 46.69 per cent support.

Earlier, when the communities were part of the former Okanagan-Similkameen-Merritt riding, representation was predominantly by Conservative or right-leaning MPs.

However, there was an exception in 1988, when New Democratic Party candidate Jack Whittaker defeated incumbent Progressive Conservative Fred King. Whittaker served one term as MP for the former Okanagan-Similkameen-Merritt riding. In 1993, Jim Hart of the former Reform Party won the seat.

From 1958 until 1988, the Progressive Conservative Party represented Similkameen communities in all but one election. That election was in 1968, when Liberal candidate Bruce Howard defeated Progressive Conservative incumbent David Vaughan Pugh.

The Co-operative Commonwealth Federation, the forerunner of today’s New Democratic Party, represented the area beginning in a by-election in 1948 until the 1957 election when the right-leaning Social Credit Party briefly represented the area. From 1872 to 1948, Conservatives won or were acclaimed in every election or by-election except 1896, 1900 and 1904 when Liberal candidates were elected.

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