NDP would cast wide net should MLA Robin Austin retire

MLA Austin hints that he will not run in the May 2017 provincial electiosn

Should Skeena NDP MLA Robin Austin follow through on hints that he will not run in the May 2017 provincial election, his decision will set in motion a party plan to broaden the gender and ethnic make up of its nomination candidates here.

“Our equity and diversity guidelines are that we’re searching for candidates as diverse as British Columbia,” explained BC NDP official Trish Webb.

It doesn’t mean that white males cannot seek the NDP nomination for Skeena but party officials would take notice should only white males be put forward as nomination candidates, she said.

“The party would step in and say can you do something about this,” Webb said.

She stressed that the search for a diverse group of candidates is a guideline only and not strictly party policy.

“This is not self-limiting to say that no white men need apply, but it is to say that can you find candidates that better represent the community.”

As it is, the current NDP caucus at the provincial legislature is 43 per cent female, a statistic bolstered with the recent addition of two women from two February by-election victories in the Vancouver-Mount Pleasant and Coquitlam-Burke Mountain ridings.

One of those elected, Melanie Mark, was also the first aboriginal woman elected to the provincial legislature.

Webb said the NDP’s record of promoting diversity among its candidates dates back to 1949 when Frank Calder, a Nisga’a, became the first First Nations person to be elected to a Canadian provincial legislature thanks to a victory in the Atlin riding.

Calder was elected as a Cooperative Commonwealth Federation member of the provincial legislature, a predecessor to the NDP which was formed in the early 1960s.

Webb said the NDP record of diversity extends to having the first provincial legislators of Chinese, Korean and Filipino extraction.

Austin has yet to officially state whether he will run in the May 2017 provincial election but hinted earlier this year that he was leaning toward not running.

Austin said he will make his decision after the spring legislative session ends, approximately one year before the May 2017 vote and a time when party officials want to determine if current legislators will run again or not.

A provincial NDP analysis of why it failed to become the governing party in the 2013 election included comments on broadening its candidate base.

“While the party has recorded great success in increasing access for women to represent our party as candidates, similar efforts must also be directed at BC’s increasingly diverse ethnic communities,” it stated.

“The [NDP] provincial executive should consider changes that would ensure that our slate of 2017 candidates fully reflects the ethnic diversity of the province.”

The NDP has never nominated a woman to run in Skeena but the provincial Liberals have twice, current Terrace mayor Carol Leclerc who ran unsuccessfuly against Austin in the 2013 provincial election and Juanita Hatton who ran in the 1991 provincial election.

Joanne Monaghan, a former Kitimat mayor, ran unsuccessfully in Skeena for the now-defunct Social Credit party in the 1983 provincial election and Anita Norman was the Skeena Green party candidate in the 2009 provincial election.

In the neighbouring North Coast riding, NDP candidate Jennifer Rice, a Prince Rupert city councillor, became that riding’s first female provincial legislator by defeating Liberal candidate Judy Fraser in the 2013 provincial election.

 

Just Posted

Chris Green, mother of scouts, passes away

Green, who was born near Kitimat, spent more than 60 years volunteering with Scouts Canada

Intertidal Music Festival back for round two

More than 20 performances throughout the day at the North Pacific Cannery on July 21

Alberta man missing on Kitimat River found dead

Body found on July 11 after going missing on July 7

Reported fire in Kitimat turns out to be smoking salmon

Fire reported at apartment on Albatross Street on July 10

Kitamaat Haisla Lightning strike against Terrace in soccer tournament

Women’s team wins during Kitimat Open Soccer Tournament

VIDEO: Visual recap of Vancouver Island MusicFest

Walk Off The Earth, Passenger, Arlo Guthrie among highlights

Trudeau’s youth council divided over Trans Mountain pipeline purchase

A letter signed by 16 past and present members was made public today, asking the federal government to reverse course

Hulk Hogan reinstated into wrestling Hall of Fame

Hogan had used racial slurs caught on video when talking about his daughter sleeping with a black man

‘Lava bomb’ through roof of tour boat injures 22 in Hawaii

“An explosion occurred near the shoreline hurling hot lava rocks towards the boat and injuring several passengers”

B.C. teen meets Nicolas Cage

Filming mob movie in downtown Vernon, B.C.

Critics claim Trump “defended a tyrant”

Trump questions US intel, not Putin, on Russia 2016 meddling

B.C. MLAs choose new children’s watchdog

Jennifer Charlesworth has worked in government, social services

B.C. reporter calls out immigration photo on social media as fake news

A Vancouver reporter is calling out a British politician for spreading fake news

Hundreds of Arctic glaciers shrinking, disappearing

Out of 1,773 glaciers, 1,353 shrank significantly between 2000 and 2016

Most Read