Blake Richards is proof nice guys don’t always finish last. In the case of the Airdrie native, they actually win once in a while.
Richards, 36, will defend his seat in the May 2 federal election in the Wild Rose electoral district.
While the Conservative government fell at the hands of a non-confidence vote, Richards is nonplussed about the election call.
“I think we’re here a little earlier than we should be. I don’t think this is something the voters really want, other than Mr. Layton and Mr. Ignatieff,” he said. “But I’m working hard laying out the record of the government and what I’ve done.”
Elected in October 2008, after taking over the riding from long-time MP Myron Thompson, Richards grabbed a whopping 71 per cent of the vote in his first election.
Reflecting on his record in the riding, Richards said he’s proud of his ability to keep the lines of communication flowing between his constituents and his office. He points to several satellite offices he keeps in the riding, which he staffs at various points in the month. As a backbencher in Ottawa, he tends to focus his time on helping his constituents.
“I’ve worked hard to be a voice of the people for the riding – I think I’ve put a lot of things in place – like the community office hours – it’s something that gives people a chance to bring up issues,” Richards said.
That has allowed ideas from the riding to become legislation. Richards said the idea to remove pardons for those sentenced with sex crimes against children came from Wild Rose.
“That started in our constituency; the government made it legislation and it passed,” Richards said.
The nice guy reputation comes with an edge of fiscal conservatism and a willingness to lock up criminals for longer periods of time.
He plans to run on a platform of tax cuts and ‘tougher’ sentences for criminals, and is happy to see an end to sentence discounts and longer sentences for dangerous offenders. He blames the opposition for slowing up crime legislation in the House of Commons. After door knocking in Airdrie Monday (March 28) night, he said the economy and crime are also important issues.
“It’s the number one issue I’m hearing from folks. The key fact is we came through a global recession and our country did very well. The next phase of that plan is keeping taxes low for businesses, giving tax credits for new hires at small businesses and getting the budget balanced as quickly as possible,” Richards said.
Helping small businesses deal with Parks Canada is another avenue he said he’s helped, as he wants to see a proper balance between preservation and economic growth struck in the park.
Specifically for the Bow Valley, help in the tourism sector came in the form of approved destination status for China and the Conservatives are developing a national tourism study.
On the campaign trail, he said he’s happy to campaign alone and doesn’t believe he’ll be joined by visits from any conservative heavyweights.
Married with one 15-year-old son, Richards said he’s keen to return to Ottawa.
“The key is being a representative of the people. Right now, I’m out meeting and listening to people and hope to be re-elected.”
He will open his Canmore campaign office on April 2 on Main street, and will have a grand opening at 4 p.m.