Monday, September 22, 2008

Cullen looking for a three peat

The incumbent Member of Parliament for Skeena-Bulkley Valley is taking nothing for granted, but he's hopeful that once again his constituents will find his message to be a favourable one and return him to Ottawa to continue his work on behalf of the riding.

Nathan Cullen outlined his thoughts on the campaign so far and how he hopes to bring the NDP's message in this campaign to the various reaches of one of the nations largest riding.

With competition from the Conservatives suggesting that the riding would be better represented by a party closer to power (an offering echoed by the Liberal candidate), Cullen will have to try and reinforce for voters his contribution for the area thus far and how he can continue to do his job whether the NDP forms a government or more than likely when it doesn't

The other key point for voters to keep in mind is that even if one of the other candidates were to be successful, there is no guarantee that they may become anything more than a back bencher in the government, perhaps sitting on the same side as the government but probably not any closer to the centre of power.

So in the end, the real test for the voter is to decide who best represents an understanding of the needs and issues in this riding and who is best suited to deliver those concerns to whatever government forms up on October 14th.

Cullen's ideas on the campaign were delivered in Friday's Daily News.
Cullen has his sights set on a bright future
Incumbent MP hoping to continue to help the region reach its potential
By George T. Baker
The Daily News
Friday, September 19, 2008
Page three

Squinting because the sun over the Rupert Harbour was setting directly in to his eyes, on Monday, Nathan Cullen explained why he is looking for a three-peat on Oct. 14 and why he should be the person to take this riding's concerns to Ottawa.

Cullen just hopes that the sun is not setting on his days as the MP for Skeena-Bulkley Valley. He said the job is just getting started.

"The federal government does not understand what the Northwest is about and what the potential is. We've (the NDP) taken it a certain distance along and made the country aware of us, but there is still work to be done," said Cullen.

As the incumbent MP for Skeena-Bulkley Valley, the 35 year-old Cullen is about to step into the political arena as the defending champ for the second time. This time, there is serious heat on him in the form of Houston Mayor Sharon Smith.

Cullen has come under criticism by Smith for not being as effective as he could be in representing the riding because he was not part of a ruling party. She isn't the only candidate saying so. Liberal candidate Corrina Morhart believes the same; that the riding could do with a person who could be in government. And those comments could linger in the minds of voters when they place their ballots in the box.

Cullen isn't sweating it.

"I think (the NDP) is willing to work on behalf of the country and willing to work with the other parties to get that done, that's been our role in the last two parliaments that I have been in and make positive things happen for our country and this riding," said Cullen. "We don't always succumb to the partisan politics that Liberals and Conservatives always seem to."

The Canadian parliament system is not designed that way and at times working with opposing politicians can be a bit of an oxymoron. Cullen said that can be overcome and he claimed voters can point to his record for proof.

In June 2007, Cullen created a private members bill to restrict the use of phthalates in household goods including toys. Because it was a private member's bill, Cullen had to garner the support of the minority government and he received it.

"Now kids' toys are safer and is just a positive thing all around," said Cullen.

Cullen has consistently been against Shell's proposed coalbed methane project in the Sacred Headwaters and he has fought against freshwater fish farms and motioned a bill banning all open-net fish farms in the North. It's all part of a record that he wants to play loudly during this election.

Out on the campaign trail, there are many voices singing. The NDP are singing this election about the growing economic divide between the very top paid executives and the lowest paid workers in Canada.

In 2006 Statscan reported that the bank accounts of the nation's top 20 per cent of income earners grew by 19 per cent, while the bottom 20 per cent gained little ground at all.

An August 2008 city of Prince Rupert report Understanding Our Social Statistics claimed that Prince Rupert and throughout the rest of the Skeena Queen Charlotte Regional District was considered the second most unequal region for income share in B.C.

Cullen thinks one of the reasons locals are seeing such hard economic divisions is because of the way raw resources are treated in the region. He thinks that sending raw goods overseas to be processed and sold back to us is a mistake.

"If you set the business of assemblage the biggest part of the profit line is the making of the product and turning it to something of utility. It drives me crazy that right across this country we are sending fish overseas to be processed and then sending it right back to be bought, that we are even sending raw oil out of Alberta to be refined there and then brought back ... we are more than hewers of wood and haulers of water," said Cullen.

That may or may not chime well with the Port of Prince Rupert, which is looking to increase the amount of exports leaving its dock but which relies on imports at the moment to make money.
Cullen said he supports the port and wants to help fill those empty containers being sent back to Asia by bringing in the communities along the CN rail line to the table.

"Ottawa can facilitate this process and the reason that would enhance the port is by making phase two a regional project and not just a Prince Rupert project," said Cullen who added that promoting the port was a constant effort he was willing to make.

Walking on the door-to-door trail, as the sun dips toward the west, Cullen first stop at a house is a quick hello-and-goodbye. Before he could explain why he was at the door, a woman abruptly shuts it. Campaigning can be hard for all candidates, incumbent or challenger.

But when the sun finally sets on this election, Cullen seems confident that his name will be the one chosen again for the Skeena-Bulkley Valley.
"Historically, the NDP has been the party that has fought for this region and people are looking for a fighter and they are looking for a party that is going to stand up for the little guy. That is at the core of New Democrat values," said Cullen.

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