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George Canyon to run for Conservatives in Central Nova

George Canyon will be among those participating in the P.E.I. Celebration of Hope this weekend in Charlottetown.
George Canyon will be running for the Conservatives in Central Nova.

Peter MacKay confirms he will not be running in Central Nova for 2019 federal election

Country Music star George Canyon will be stepping in to run as the Conservative Candidate for Central Nova.

The announcement was made early Wednesday morning, Aug. 21.

Canyon, who grew up in Foxbrook, will fill the vacancy left by Roger MacKay who stepped down this week citing “personal reasons.”

MacKay told The News on Aug. 21 that his reasons for stepping down had nothing to do with the possibility that George Canyon could be running and said he was not aware of the possibility of Canyon taking the nomination until Tuesday night Aug. 20.

Canyon, who is known by many in Pictou County as Fred Lays Jr., first gained fame as the runner up on Nashville Star in 2004. He’s gone on to win a Juno award and numerous Canadian Country Music Awards. He also holds an appointment in the Canadian Forces as the Colonel Commandant of the Royal Canadian Air Cadets.

This isn’t the first time that Canyon has expressed an interest in politics. In 2014 he had announced he would be seeking the Conservative nomination for Bow River riding in Calgary. He later withdrew from that citing a health scare.

Aside from his music career, Canyon has also performed as an actor in roles such as the “Head Forest Ranger” in the Trailer Park Boys and as Charlie Wells in the TV series Heartland.

Former Central Nova MP Peter MacKay confirmed to The News that he personally will not be seeking the nomination and said that Canyon will be appointed by the party this week.

Central Nova Conservative Association President Ryan Sharpe said the appointment will be made by the national campaign team rather than by a vote on the local level.

Sharpe said it’s all happened very quickly.

“I wasn’t really expecting George Canyon would be our candidate when we started this week, but here we are,” he said.

To give a better understanding, Sharpe explained that after Roger MacKay had stepped down, someone reached out to George Canyon because they had heard he was interested in running.

Sharpe believes Canyon will be a strong candidate for the riding.

“George has strong local roots here in the riding. He certainly has a well-known presence throughout the county.”

The news seems to be generating excitement among local party members, Sharpe said.

“Folks are happy,” he said. “A lot of people are offering to help out. Folks are excited.”

Canyon is expected to appear with Peter MacKay for a meet and greet with the new candidate from 7 p.m. to 10 p.m. on Thursday, Aug. 22 at the Royal Canadian Legion at 140 MacKay Street, Stellarton.

Canyon will be vying against incumbent Liberal MP Sean Fraser, NDP candidate Betsy MacDonald, Green Party candidate Barry Randle and People’s Party of Canada candidate Al Muir.

MORE TO COME

RELATED: What's next for Central Nova, now that Roger MacKay is out of the federal election race?

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