Werner Schmidt, MP under three political parties, dies at age 92

Former Kelowna MP dies

Former Kelowna-Lake Country Reform Party, Canadian Alliance and Conservative Party MP Werner Schmidt has died. He was 92.

Schmidt, leader of the Alberta Social Credit Party from 1973 to 1975 and a founding member of the Reform Party of Canada and a member of its first executive council, died March 29.

He served as the MP for Kelowna-Lake Country after Reform Party leader Preston Manning, a friend, recruited him to run for the party in British Columbia.

After running unsuccessfully in 1988 in what was then known as Okanagan Centre, he was elected in the riding in 1993 and again in 1997 after the riding was named Kelowna.

Schmidt was elected a third time in 2000, taking 60% of the vote, representing the Canadian Alliance, which succeeded the Reform Party and was led by another former Alberta politician who moved to the Okanagan to run for a seat in Parliament, Stockwell Day. His fourth and final election was in 2004 as a Conservative Party MP, following the merger between the Canadian Alliance and the Conservatives.

As an opposition MP, Schmidt served in three critic roles, as critic for Industry, Public Works and Government Services and Seniors. He also sat on parliamentary standing committees, including the Standing Committees on Industry, Finance and Procedure and House Affairs.

He served as caucus chair of the Canadian Alliance and caucus vice-chair when the party merged with the Progressive Conservative Party in 2003 to form the Conservative Party of Canada.

Prior to politics, Schmidt was a teacher, school principal and superintendent of schools in Alberta and executive director of the Alberta School Trustees Association. As vice-president of Lethbridge Community College in 1973, he was elected leader of the Alberta Social Credit Party, after that party lost the 1971 election and its leader, former Alberta Harry Strom, stepped down.

As leader, Schmidt ran in a byelection in the Calgary-Foothills riding by failed to win the seat. In the 1975 provincial election, he also failed to win a seat and his party won just four seats. He resigned as Social Credit leader and returned to private.

According to Schmidt’s obituary, his political aspirations were rooted in advocating for key democratic reforms, such as an elected Senate, which aligned with the Reform Party's principles.

Following his retirement from politics in 2006, Schmidt’s obituary says he dedicated his time to his family, volunteering in political campaigns, writing reflective pieces on leadership and life and mentoring aspiring leaders.

He is survived by his wife Teena, sons Allan and Dwayne, daughter-in-law Lori and Cheryl and grandsons Tyler and Wyatt.

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