Manitoba Independent MLA Steven Fletcher wants to be Conservative MP again
Fletcher previously held federal seat from 2004 until defeat in 2015
A former federal Conservative MP who now sits as an Independent member of the Manitoba legislature says he's making another run for federal politics.
Steven Fletcher announced Monday on Facebook and Twitter that he will seek the Conservative nomination in the federal constituency of Charleswood-St. James-Assiniboia-Headingley.
"First of all, it's about the people of Manitoba and the people of the riding. I really appreciate the opportunity to represent the people of the area, federally or provincially," Fletcher told CBC News on Monday.
Fletcher previously held the federal seat from 2004 until he was defeated in 2015, and served in the cabinet of former prime minister Stephen Harper.
He then won a provincial seat as a member of the Progressive Conservatives when the party won power in 2016.
But he was removed from caucus and was forced to sit as an Independent after he criticized the government over its decision to set up an entity separate from Manitoba Hydro to promote energy efficiency.
Fletcher said Monday it's well known that he's taken a different position than provincial government on a variety of issues, including the carbon tax, and he has pursued an aggressive agenda as an Independent MLA, including putting together a bill on conflict of interest legislation.
"I just have a fundamental disagreement about taxation and spending with the provincial government, and that's fine, and we move on," he said.
Stephen Barber also announced his candidacy for that riding on Monday. He declined an interview with CBC News Monday.
2/2 I look forward to continuing my role as MLA for Assiniboia. In the upcoming legislative session, I have many events, activities and active legislative agenda to bring forward and complete Please stay tuned! <a href="https://twitter.com/hashtag/mbpoli?src=hash&ref_src=twsrc%5Etfw">#mbpoli</a> <a href="https://twitter.com/WinnipegNews?ref_src=twsrc%5Etfw">@WinnipegNews</a> <a href="https://twitter.com/WinnipegCP?ref_src=twsrc%5Etfw">@WinnipegCP</a> <a href="https://twitter.com/winnipegsun?ref_src=twsrc%5Etfw">@winnipegsun</a> <a href="https://twitter.com/CBCManitoba?ref_src=twsrc%5Etfw">@CBCManitoba</a> <a href="https://twitter.com/680CJOB?ref_src=twsrc%5Etfw">@680CJOB</a>—@HonSFletcher
I have been building support over the past couple months, website is up, and printed materials finished all mean one thing: I am ready! 2/2 <a href="https://twitter.com/hashtag/CPC?src=hash&ref_src=twsrc%5Etfw">#CPC</a> <a href="https://twitter.com/hashtag/mbpoli?src=hash&ref_src=twsrc%5Etfw">#mbpoli</a> <a href="https://t.co/6RLNZjo7cB">https://t.co/6RLNZjo7cB</a>—@StephenKBarber
Fletcher still has 12 provincial bills making their way through legislature on issues including conflict of interest legislation and organ donation.
He said the issues he tackled as an MLA will continue to be part of his work as an MP, should he be elected.
"These are all things that fall nicely within the federal Conservative platform and agenda, and it will also allow me to continue to run on the platform that I was elected on, which was the PC Manitoba platform provincially."
Fletcher says in his Facebook post that he will continue his role as an MLA for Assiniboia in the upcoming legislature session.
He said his experience in provincial politics will make him more effective on the federal stage, as well.
"I think I'm certainly a better person for having the experiences that I have had in the electoral arena, and that experience can be used by the people of the riding to improve our area and our country," he said. "And I'd like to continue to have that opportunity."
Fletcher is a quadriplegic and became well-known during his time as a federal politician for his battle for the right to assisted suicide.
After he was ejected from Manitoba's government caucus, Fletcher filed a lawsuit over a provincial law that forbids legislature members from crossing the floor and joining another caucus.
Under the law introduced by the former NDP government in 2006, Fletcher was required to sit as an Independent until the next election. That, or he could resign his seat and run in a byelection under another party banner.
Fletcher's lawyer told court in December the restriction violates Fletcher's freedom of expression and association under the Charter of Rights and Freedoms.
Court of Queen's Bench Justice Sheldon Lanchbery reserved his decision until March.
With files from CBC's Aidan Geary