Valcourt's sister hopes to tap ex-MP's popularity
Last Updated: Thursday, September 9, 2010 | 5:44 AM ET
Progressive Conservatives in northwestern New Brunswick are hoping to capitalize on the long-standing popularity of Tory stalwart Bernard Valcourt in the provincial election campaign.
Martine Coulombe, the sister of the former Brian Mulroney-era Conservative MP and cabinet minister, is running in the northwestern riding of Restigouche-la-Vallée that the Tories are trying to reclaim.
David Alward's Progressive Conservative campaign bus stopped briefly at Coulombe's campaign office in Saint Quentin on Wednesday.
The Tories think Coulombe can win the riding on Sept. 27 in part because of her family connection.
Coulombe said she consulted with her older brother when she was thinking of running in the provincial election.
"I said, 'Bernard I would like to go through that,'" Coulombe said.
"He said `Oh my God are you sure?'"
Restigouche-la-Vallée was a new riding in 2006, merging the Tory-held riding of Madawaska-la-Vallée and the Liberal-held riding of Restigouche West.
Tory Percy Mockler, who was a top cabinet minister for Bernard Lord, emerged victorious in 2006. Liberal Burt Paulin picked up the seat in a 2009 byelection after Mockler was appointed to the Senate by Prime Minister Stephen Harper.
Valcourt was popular in the northwest as a federal MP and cabinet minister.
Coulombe said Valcourt was popular in the region because he never forgot his roots, an example she said she'll follow if she is elected.
"When he was a minister and when he worked there, he would still be himself," Coulombe said.
'I described her as the Valcourt au feminin. She has the same drive, the same willingness. She's a bright lady. She has the same energy.'— Madeleine Dubé, Edmundston Tory candidate
Valcourt never quite caught on with the rest of New Brunswick during his two years as leader of the provincial PC party.
Valcourt was also the leader of the provincial Tories in the 1995 election, which he lost to Frank McKenna's Liberals.
But in northwestern New Brunswick, people still believe in the Valcourt brand.
Veteran Tory Edmundston MLA Madeleine Dubé, who is running for her fourth election, said she sees shades of Valcourt in Coulombe.
"I described her as the Valcourt au feminin. She has the same drive, the same willingness. She's a bright lady. She has the same energy," Dubé said.
Valcourt's future has also become a hot topic in northwestern New Brunswick as speculation of a political comeback is mounting.
Valcourt, who was a senior cabinet minister in the Mulroney and Kim Campbell governments, is rumoured to be interested in regaining his Madawaska-Restigouche seat in the next federal election.
Liberal MP Jean-Claude D'Amours has held the northwestern riding since 2004.