Northern MPs Look Forward to 2017
Prince George, B.C. – Leadership.
Three northern MPs all agree that will be the focal point for the opposition Conservatives and New Democrats in 2017.
The Conservatives will elect their new leader in May while the NDP will choose theirs in October.
Skeena-Bulkley Valley NDP MP Nathan Cullen figures the current Prime Minister’s “honeymoon” period lasted a little longer than it should have as the main opposition parties searched for new blood.
“And you can see Mr. Trudeau’s popularity already starting to slide as he’s unable to be all things to all people as he promised. So now there’s opportunities on the left and the right to articulate a different vision of Canada and perhaps a stronger one than the Liberals are doing right now.”
And though this may come as a disappointment to some, he says he isn’t reconsidering his decision not to enter the race.
“No, I thought about it quite a bit before deciding and I’ve not looked back. If just felt like the right call for me and my family, then and it still does today.”
Cullen expects the race to begin in earnest this month and hasn’t decided who he’ll support though he acknowledges the choice is an important one.
“You’ve got to look to the future to try and figure where the electorate will likely be in three years’ time, what issues will be big. But certainly, charisma is going to be important, being able to communicate with the entire country in two languages and someone who can connect with people seems to be increasingly important.”
Prince George-Peace River-Northern Rockies Conservative MP Bob Zimmer agrees electing a new leader will be paramount for his party this year. He’s thrown his supporting behind Saskatchewan MP Andrew Scheer though he thinks the publicity a Kevin O’Leary candidacy could bring to the race is a positive for the party.
“I just saw Kevin O’Leary in Ottawa and he’s going to enter the race and that will make things interesting. I think it’s going to elevate the competition. Right now, the race is not being followed by a lot of Canadians but I think this will make it a much more followed event.”
What are his views of controversial candidate Kellie Leitch who among other things has pitched the idea of screening immigrants for “anti-Canadian values?”
“I think there’s going to be diverse views within the leadership race,” says Zimmer. “But I personally really support that softer wide of conservatism. We do care, we care about the needy. In fact, we’re doing a poverty reduction strategy right now.”
Neighbouring Cariboo-Prince George Conservative MP Todd Doherty figures his party’s leadership race “will steal a lot of the focus” as the Conservatives move forward.
“Because it’s really going to frame how we move to 2019 and that right person that we elect as our leader is deadly serious.”
To that end, Doherty has endorsed Erin O’Toole for leader, but notes it wasn’t an easy decision.
“It’s hard because all these people are our friends, every one of them,” he says. “As we move forward as a group, we’ll look for the leader that is strong and can lead us into 2019 and doesn’t have divisive policies.”