UPDATE: Former Strahl assistant to run for BC Liberal nomination

Laurie Throness, a former assistant to MP Chuck Strahl has announced his bid for the B.C. Liberal nomination in Chilliwack-Hope.

Laurie Throness

He was Conservative MP Chuck Strahl’s chief of staff in Ottawa.

He was a Reform Party researcher in the 1990s and a policy advisor to the federal health minister in 2009.

He was Socred MLA Harv Schroeder’s executive assistant in Chilliwack, and he ran for the party’s nomination here in 1986.

He has a Master’s Degree in public administration from Queen’s University and a PhD in history from Cambridge University.

Now Laurie Throness, 53, wants to be the BC Liberal Party’s candidate in the upcoming Chilliwack-Hope byelection.

Why would anyone with Throness’s political experience want to jump into a byelection that even the BC Liberal Premier admits will be nearly impossible for the governing party to win?

“I think there’s an economic storm coming,” Throness replied in answer to that question during an interview Tuesday.

“Europe is on the brink of financial collapse, Greece and Italy are stalled democracies, the U.S. has a trillion-dollar deficit — there has to be a reckoning coming,” he said.

And Throness said he wants to be part of the BC government and use some of the political acumen he’s acquired over the past 18 years to help the province weather the storm.

“I think I’ve had a breadth of experience that I’ve developed that I think will lead me to be an effective MLA,” he said.

Throness also suggested that only a political coalition like the BC Liberals can stop the NDP from winning the next provincial election in 2013 and forming government — a swipe at the BC Conservative party, which is challenging the conservative credentials of the BC Liberals.

The Chilliwack-Hope riding is a traditionally “small-c conservative” stronghold, both federally and provincially, but even BC Liberal Premier Christy Clark admitted during a recent visit that “governments almost always lose byelections.”

Byelections are seen as a safe way for voters to send a message to governments by casting their ballots for political parties they would not otherwise support.

However, even in light of the most contentious political issue facing the BC Liberals — their introduction of the Harmonized Sales Tax without public consultation — Chilliwack voters bucked the overwhelming provincial trend and supported the government’s position to keep the tax.

Clark also said that despite the historical trend of governments losing byelections, it would be “bizarre” for Chilliwack-Hope voters to send a New Democrat to Victoria, and she did not rule out completely a BC Liberal victory.

Throness moved to Chilliwack in 1983 and two years later started working as Schroeder’s executive assistant before moving to Victoria to work for Socred MLAs Grace McCarthy and Hugh Curtis.

He ran unsuccessfully for nomination as the Socred candidate in Chilliwack in 1986, and as school board candidate in Vancouver under the NPA banner.

He joined Strahl’s Ottawa team as legislative assistant from 1994-97 and then worked as social policy researcher for Preston Manning, Stockwell Day and Stephen Harper.

He went to Cambridge University in 2002 to work on a PhD, and published a book about the history of the penitentiary system.

When Strahl retired from politics last year, Throness returned to the Fraser Valley and attended courses a Trinity Western University in Langley.

He is single with no children, and his father is a retired minister living in Chilliwack.

“I’m already familiar with the constituency, its issues and its people,” Throness said in a news release announcing his bid for the nomination.

“I’m ready and I’ll be working hard over the coming weeks to obtain the nomination,” he said.

No date or location has been set for the nomination meeting.

rfreeman@theprogress.com

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