John Barlow wins Conservative nomination

Politics: Barlow to run as party's candidate in spring byelection in Macleod

By: Don Patterson

  |  Posted: Wednesday, Mar 12, 2014 06:00 am

Former Macleod MP Ted Menzies congratulates John Barlow after he won the nomination to become the Conservative party's candidate in a spring by-election in the Macleod riding in Okotoks March 8.
Former Macleod MP Ted Menzies congratulates John Barlow after he won the nomination to become the Conservative party's candidate in a spring by-election in the Macleod riding in Okotoks March 8.
Jordan Verlage/OWW

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Macleod Conservative Party members have selected John Barlow as their candidate in a spring byelection.

Barlow, the Okotoks Western Wheel’s associate publisher and editor, won the nomination to become the party’s candidate in Okotoks on March 8.

Barlow defeated Springbank businessman Scott Wagner, Blackie area farmer Phil Rowland and High River resident and University of Calgary researcher Melissa Mathieson.

He will now run in a spring byelection in the Macleod constituency under the Conservative party banner to replace former MP Ted Menzies. A date has not yet been set for the byelection.

Barlow said he’s proud of what his campaign team accomplished.

“It was such a long process and a pretty grueling campaign, for sure,” he said. “But I’m extremely proud of what our team accomplished, our message really resonated.”

The Okotoks vote capped off three days of voting that started in Pincher Creek on March 6, with a second day of voting in Claresholm on March 7. The final results of the vote were not announced, however, nearly 1,500 ballots were cast, with 1,200 cast in Okotoks.

Barlow is nearly a lock to become the Macleod MP this spring, as the riding has voted in Conservative candidates, either as Progressive Conservatives, Reform or Conservative, for decades.

However, Barlow said he intends to run a strong campaign to show voters why they should support him at the ballot box.

“I still have to make sure everybody in Macleod knows they have a strong representative and I’m going to be approaching that byelection just as hard as if I was in last place,” he said.

The RCMP seizure of firearms after last year’s flood became the key issue in the nomination race. Unlike his opponents who all called for an inquiry into the seizure, Barlow said he felt the rebuilding and recovery effort should be the top priority and would support an inquiry if Macleod residents wanted one.

He hopes party members will now come together as the nomination race comes to a close, particularly after a heated debate over the gun seizures.

“I think people will come together, we’ll be one family, one team and I’m going to try to preach that as hard as I can that we all need to stand together,” he said.

Barlow said he is still putting together a campaign platform, but supporting the flood recovery is his top priority.

“Flood mitigation and making sure that our communities get back up on their feet will be job number one,” he said.

Mathieson said the nomination race has brought a lot of attention to the Macleod riding and the issue of the RCMP gun seizure. In fact, she said the firearms issue brought a lot of people out to vote last week.

“I don’t expect that will go away anytime soon,” she said.

As the nomination race wraps up, Mathieson said she doesn’t think the party will have any problem banding together behind Barlow to prepare for the by-election.

At 24, she was the youngest person in the nomination contest. Mathieson said it sends a message the younger generation is interested in the party and getting involved in politics and she wants to see more young people participate.

“This party and every party needs younger candidates and every party needs younger candidates and needs to attract younger candidates if they want to be competitive,” she said. “It’s so important for my party, the Conservative party, if they want to be competitive in the next election, they better attract some younger candidates and speak to a younger generation.”

Former Macleod MP Ted Menzies said Barlow has a number of challenges ahead of him he will have to deal with, particularly addressing problems farmers are facing getting their crops to market.

However, he said Barlow is a good candidate for the job of being Macleod MP.

“He’s well known, well respected, so he’ll do well,” he said.

As Barlow now prepares to run to fill his seat in the House of Commons, Menzies urged him to not forget what matters to him and what drove him to want to enter politics in the first place.

“The most important piece of advice I can give to him is to remember who he was and remain that same person with that same passion and that same compassion for people that he had before he was elected,” he said. “Don’t ever change that. That’s the best advice that I can give.”


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