Second candidate announces interest to fill shoes of NDP's Alex Atamanenko
The next Federal Election is still months away, but already the parties are busy sourcing out candidates to fill ridings.
In the new South Okanagan – West Kootenay federal riding that covers much of the rural area outside Nelson — a second candidate has stepped forward to seek the nomination for the NDP.
Richard “Dick” Cannings of Penticton announced his intention to seek the nomination as the NDP candidate who would replace Alex Atamanenko who is retiring as of the next federal election, currently scheduled for 2015.
Cannings is the second to state his intention along with Margaret Maximenko of Christina Lake who announced in November, 2013.
Cannings was the NDP candidate for Penticton in the 2013 provincial election in which he lost to BC Liberal candidate Dan Ashton by about five per cent – a total Cannings said is an excellent showing for the BC NDP in that riding.
“We didn’t win, but we came closer than ever before,” Cannings says, noting that though Penticton is a generally conservative area many people in the area are dissatisfied with the current government in Ottawa.
“I think overall people are very concerned about the direction that the federal government has taken on a whole number of issues,” he says.
“Whether it’s the environment and climate change, peacekeeping or being an honest broker for various issues in the world, we’ve gone from being a leader in the world to really the bottom of the barrel.”
New riding a challenge for NDP
Yet Cannings notes that the change in the configuration of federal ridings in the area that saw Nelson moved into the Kootenay-Columbia riding and surrounding areas attached to the new South Okanagan-West Kootenay riding is a disadvantage to the NDP in the region.
“The redistribution has tipped the balance in the Conservatives’ favour,” Cannings says. “If this riding were in the last election they would have won it.
“But I think times are different now. People are disappointed with the Conservatives. And people are very impressed with Alex (Atamanenko) and what the NDP has done as the opposition party.
It will be very interesting because it’s a brand new riding with no incumbent. I think I can do very well.”
A diverse riding
Cannings says the new riding, which encompasses urban centres including Penticton, Osoyoos, Grand Forks, Trail, Rossland and Castlegar as well as rural parts of the Okanagan and the West Kootenay – including the Slocan Valley, Kaslo and parts of RDCK areas D, E, F and H, is a diverse one with many different community-level issues and interests at play.
He says the most important part to representing a riding like this is listening and doing whatever is possible at a federal level.
“You listen to people,” he notes. “You go out and find out what the local issues are and what the federal NDP can do to help them. I think I have a pretty middle of the road, open-door policy to listen to all those constituents and I think serve them well.”
But in the bigger picture, Cannings says what’s needed is a change of government.
“Overall, this government has raged war on democracy and science, and that’s why I really want to get involved. We need to change the direction of government entirely.”
Still a wait
Before the NDP can choose a new candidate for the next election they have to form a new riding association and search for nominees.
Beverly Onischak, president of the current BC Southern Interior Riding Association, says she expects the new riding association for South Okanagan – West Kootenay to be in place by the middle of March.
“We’re just about to get permission from Elections Canada to have a founding meeting for South Okanagan – West Kootenay,” Onischak says.
“As soon as we have permission, we’ll have a founding meeting and a new riding. Then we’ll strike a search committee to look for a new candidate.”
Onischak hopes the new candidate will be in place by the middle of April.
Penticton realtor Marshall Neufeld is the lone declared candidate for the Conservative nomination.
Gordon Neish of Penticton was chosen president of the South Okanagan riding for the Liberal Party.