Friday, October 23, 2009

Olympic gold-medal snowboarder Ross Rebagliati to take on Sea-Doo-loving Stockwell Day

EXCLUSIVE: Ross Rebagliati entering politics against Stockwell Day

Gold medal-winning snowboarder to run for Liberals in next election in Okanagan-Coquihalla


Bill Tieleman and Ross Rebagliati - Joyce Thayer photo

Olympic gold medal-winning snowboarder Ross Rebagliati wants to push federal Conservative cabinet minister Stockwell Day downhill all the way by running against him for the Liberals in the next election, 24 hours has exclusively learned.

In an interview Thursday with 24 hours, Rebagliati admitted he has a tough uphill climb against Day, the Minister of International Trade who won 58% of the Okanagan-Coquihalla vote in the October 2008 election.

“I’m used to lofty climbs,” said Rebagliati, who won gold in Nagano, Japan in 1998. “I don’t really feel I’m running against Stockwell Day as much as I’m running for the riding – to give voters an option.”

Rebagliati, 38, said he will use social media to connect with young people who don’t vote to defeat Day, 59, a former Canadian Alliance leader.

After Rebagliati’s Monday nomination – there are no other candidates – expect a classic sports battle – world champion snowboarder versus Sea-Doo riding politician – Day once rode the personal watercraft in a wetsuit to a news conference, gaining huge publicity but pundit disdain.

Rebagliati knows that despite his world-wide name recognition he faces a tough competitor. The 2008 Liberal candidate came in 4th, behind Day, the NDP and even the Green Party – and Day has won four elections in the riding.

For me, it’s tapping into my demographics – the 18 to 40 year-old range,” Rebagliati says. “Stockwell is able to win with very few of the potential voters and I want to get out non-voters with a massive web, Twitter, Facebook and social media campaign.”

Rebagliati said he isn’t worried that the Conservatives will attempt to target him over his Olympic win because he was briefly denied the gold medal after testing positive for traces of marijuana – which he blamed on second-hand smoke.

“I’m not concerned about it – it’s old news and I’ve deal with it for over a decade,” Rebagliati says.

Rebagliati will focus his campaign on key national issues like jobs, health care, the environment and homelessness, he said, but also on native concerns such as the Conservative cancellation of the Kelowna Accord developed by the Paul Martin Liberal government.

The world-famous snowboarder currently lives just outside the riding in Kelowna with his wife Alexandra and new son Ryan Enzo but says he is house hunting in Okanagan-Coquihalla.

Rebagliati has been involved in real estate, promotional work, construction and has a book on snowboarding titled “Off The Chain” coming out in November. He also works with a number of charities, including Big Brothers, the Make A Wish Foundation and Kids Help Phone.

NOTE: I was pleased to count Ross as a West Star Communications client in the past but have not worked with him in several years.


Ron said...

Ross identifyed several issues he was not concerned about - and I hope he's right.

But he didn't mention something he should be worried about - his leader. The Liberals are planning a Thinkers conference for January, and Iggy - who more and more observers are calling him Mr.Dithers - continues to temporize.

For example, the Liberals (including Mr. Dion!) recently voted against the NDP environmental bill to set clear ennvironmental targets before the Copenhagen climate treaty negotiations in December.

The Muses have inspired a poem about Ross's leader, as follows:

When will the Liberals remove Iggy's training wheels?
So that Martini Heights - where he appeals

Will support the Liberals Thinkers event
Where the elite will ponder our future and present

An agenda for us plebs who
The new Mr. Dithers will nimbly woo

Gary E said...

Go for it Ross. And good luck.

Henri Paul said...

For sliding down a hill on a chunk of plywood. Now this guy deserves accreditation? This guy never earned squat.
Bill your backing him? Im dissapointed in you.
Sh!t I would even back Hedi Fry before this character,and I can't stand her, but, I do credit her for being her own self made person.

Anonymous said...

Is this artice for real ? I am thinking it is Tieleman poking fun at the Conservative's ? Surely it must be.

Anonymous said...

What are you smoking these dayz Bill?

Anonymous said...

The riding had a somewhat respectable 60 per cent turnout and Day garnered 58 per cent of that.

For Ross to win, he'll have to pick up both NDP and Green votes, which is not easy, especially when running under the Liberal banner in BC.

DPL said...

Someone mentioned Hedy Fry. Hedy got caught writing prescriptions for a person who did not have the HIV virus because his friend had the virus and had no medical coverage.She is no saint but I guess she figured it might keep a guy alive. If Ross takes a run at StockBoy and beats him, it would be great. Stockwell has blundered around quite a bit. I figure it's up to the voters in the riding, not us who live elsewhere. However any Conservative getting knocked out of the trough, in my view is a win for all of us.

Anonymous said...

I live in Stock's OK corral.

As surely as day follows night Rebagliati's ride is sadly doomed - barring an extended personal faux pas from the Conservative candidate.

The blue haired ladies LOVE this man like he was their long lost son. Whenever they talk about him the little dears sound like a fawning teenager swooning over a rock star. And their men? They think he's 'right-on-crime'. Perfect combo in the only demographic that votes. Day's machine is well oiled and well practised.

Ross absolutely needs to get connected with the minority of young voters who are inclined to vote for him and get their bums in the booths.

Four Twenty said...

If he pulls off a big upset, maybe we can finally get some action on a marijuana legalization bill!

Not Your Wife said...

Sigh...well, that is a big order.

A gold medal does not a pol make. Libs have some funding problems as well as splits in their own party ('allo? Dennis Coderre?).

"Iffy" is not helping any Libs get elected right now as his premature call for a federal election (with no smokin' hot issue behind that call) makes him look weak and inexperienced. Ok, silly, too.

And speaking about smokin'...while Ross's past (or current) drug habits may be considered business as usual in larger urban centres, I doubt Kelowna, even with UBC and community colleges student population, would be ready to embrace him. You would have to find bigger issues to have most kids turn out about other than drug legalization.

And, as others have noted, those who already have a history of voting, do like Stock's hair.

Now, if Ross could learn to play the piano...;-)

Gary L said...

Hmm, well I thought after Adscam and a few other little actions that earned the Liberals "The Party Of Entitlement", that all Member's, both present and future would try to get us, the Electorate to forget.
Obviously I was wrong..........

Brendan said...

"Ross Rebagliati wants to push federal Conservative cabinet minister Stockwell Day downhill all the way by running against him for the Liberals in the next election"

There's a next election coming up soon? Ignatieff can't even threaten Harper anymore because he might just accept the challenge and let an election be forced. That's great that the Liberals are prepared but please, this isn't news unless something is likely to happen.

Bill, is that what you meant by "there are no other candidates" ? That the challengers to Conservative power in this riding last election are waiting until there actually is an election ?

I'm just thankful that I don't live there and be faced with the potential two-horse race between a candidate who's credentials are 'snowboard champion' and a candidate who is a bigot. Given that choice I'll take the snowboard champion. When do I get a real choice ?

Bill Tieleman said...

First, the "no other candidates" line refers to potential Liberal contenders for the nomination.

Given that both the NDP and even Greens beat the Liberals last time, I'm sure they'll nominate their own candidates.

Second, I didn't say I was "backing" Ross anywhere! I think he's a fine guy and wish him well but I've never endorsed a Liberal candidate, nor a Conservative or Green. And in this riding I seriously doubt my endorsement would help!

As for Hedy Fry, I continue to hope someone will defeat her, preferably Michael Byers.

I don't smoke anything but I do poke fun at Conservatives and others as well. This is not one of those occasions.

Unknown said...

There is nothing wrong with a snowboarder running for politics. To win a gold medal he obviously knows how to work hard. good luck to him.

Anonymous said...

I don’t get it…Rebagliati says…

“For me, it’s tapping into my demographics – the 18 to 40 year-old range,” Rebagliati says. “Stockwell is able to win with very few of the potential voters and I want to get out non-voters with a massive web, Twitter, Facebook and social media campaign.”

If he is after the 18 to 40 year old demographic then it makes sense to run in the riding he actually lives in against the lesser known and much less effective Ron Cannan. Further Cannan’s riding is home to both Okanagan College and UBC Okanagan where there are more voters likely to actually vote for Rebagliati.

Instead he want’s to run in a riding that likely has one of the higher concentrations of retired people in the country. The same kind of retired people who love Conservatives and don’t think much of the Olympic’s and dope smokers. Either Rebagliati is an idiot or he is really looking to do some personal promotion in which case running against hi-profile Stockwell Day makes all the sense in the world.

P.S. I don’t think Rebagliati is an idiot.

Sue said...

We're going to hell in a burning handbasket--overpopulation, environmental destruction, gross economic inequity and gender influence inequity. I hope Ross Rebagliati learns that the Marketplace Dogma is, and was, a lie; that "growth" forever is impossible in a finite world. The rest of the Libs and Cons haven't figured any of that out yet. We need a fair voting system and young people need to grab a brain and learn how to use it--FAST!

Cheryl said...

Obviously the Liberal Party does not even see him as a valuable candidate they would like to see as a member of their caucus; otherwise, they would have arranged for him to run in a riding where he had a chance at winning.

That being said - I applaud anyone willing to put their name forward, so good luck to him!

Anonymous said...

Sean Holman and his rabble rousers as usuual picked on Ross. Cracked jokes and generally spoke poorly of his decision. listen to it on his podcast.