As a farm leader, Ian Wishart lobbied politicians. Now he wants to be one himself.
Wishart ended two weeks of rumour by saying he will seek the provincial Progressive Conservative nomination for his home riding of Portage la Prairie.
He announced his decision to a hometown crowd of friends and neighbours at an Oct. 29 news conference in a local hotel.
Wishart resigned abruptly as Keystone Agricultural Producers president Oct. 14 amid speculation he was planning to enter provincial politics.
As KAP leader, Wishart always kept his political preferences well hidden. So it was a bit of a surprise to some when he came out in favour of the PCs.
But Wishart said he was president of the local PC constituency some 15 years ago and always felt comfortable within the Tory tent.
“I have an open mind on issues. But I think my roots are in the Conservative party. That’s where I’m most comfortable.”
Wishart said all three major political parties phoned him the morning after he resigned from KAP to see what his preferences were.
He said he met with all of them and decided to go with the Conservatives because he felt most at home with their policies.
Wishart, 56, will seek to succeed PC incumbent MLA David Faurschou, who announced in September he would not run in the next provincial election.
A nomination meeting is expected before Christmas. The Portage la Prairie PC constituency held its annual meeting Nov. 2.
Wishart said he decided to enter politics because he missed the local community involvement; there was never enough time when he was involved with KAP leadership.
He laughed when asked if he saw himself as a possible agriculture minister should the Tories win the next provincial election Oct. 4, 2011.
“If nominated, that’s step one, I’ll fight for election. And if elected, I’ll be happy to serve in whatever role the leader wants me to, whether that’s in government or in opposition.”
Wishart was KAP president for nearly three years and vice-president for four years before that. He and his wife Leslie, an accountant, operate a beef and grain farm north of Portage la Prairie. They have two daughters aged 12 and 10.