Beverley DeSantis, the CEO of Tourism Kamloops, is seeking the Kamloops-Thompson-Cariboo Conservative nomination in the next federal election.
The nomination will be up for grabs after MP Cathy McLeod announced on Feb. 4 she will not be seeking a fifth term in Ottawa. DeSantis is the first person to publicly declare an interest in the nomination.
“I’ve been around politics for a very long time, very interested in politics and very supportive of politicians in government,” DeSantis told KTW. “I’m at a point in my life where I have the experience, strength and confidence to be able to, I believe, move successfully forward and make a difference in our community.”
DeSantis is originally from the Prairies, where she was born in Saskatoon and grew up in Calgary. She has been a member of the Conservative Party of Canada for about six months.
DeSantis unsuccessfully sought a nomination in 2015 for the provincial Progressive Conservative Party of Alberta. She described the timing of her decision to seek the nomination locally as one that has always been discussed around the table for “quite a while.”
DeSantis moved to Kamloops for the position as CEO of Tourism Kamloops in 2016. If she were to become the area’s MP, she would step down from that role. DeSantis brings experience in tourism, business and post-secondary education. She and husband Carl DeSantis, who is the executive director of the Kamloops Central Business Improvement Association, were previously invested in travel agencies.
DeSantis was also in the past program co-ordinator for the School of Business at Bow Valley College in Calgary, where she developed the tourism program. She also worked briefly in oil and gas and at an organization that helps entrepreneurs start businesses before moving to Kamloops for her current role.
DeSantis said her experience will help in aiding Canadians coming out of the COVID-19 pandemic.
“I do think the voice of a powerful woman who has got experience in both business and community, government and not-for-profit, will bring a terrific voice to the conversation,” DeSantis said.
She said the riding has historically been a Conservative constituency and that it is evolving. She said the community is diverse and welcoming and touted party leader Erin O’Toole, as “the direction we need to go.”
“The principles and policies of the Conservative Party align very well with my beliefs and values and I think they align well with the beliefs and values of our community,” she said.
The next federal election is not planned until 2023, but speculation has mounted that Prime Minister Justin Trudeau, whose Liberals are governing with a minority, will seek an early vote.
McLeod was first elected in 2008 and has served four terms. She succeeded Conservative Betty Hinton, who was MP from 2000 to 2008.
The riding has had a female MP for 21 straight years, both being Conservative. Prior to Hinton, New Democrat Nelson Riis was MP for 20 years.