Friday, November 21, 2008

Nathan Cullen shifts spots with a new critics’ portfolio

The NDP MP for Skeena, Nathan Cullen has been shifted into a high profile position as the NDP’s critic on matters of natural resources and energy. It’s a shift of responsibilities which should find him in the public eye frequently, considering the business friendly aspects of the Conservative agenda and the interest that their energy plans provide for.

Leaving behind his duties as the NDP’s watchdog for the environment, he will now be tasked to keeping an eye on the Conservative agenda when it comes to the development of natural resources and the production of an energy program for the troubled economic times we face.

The Daily News provided a synopsis of his new duties as part of Jack Layton's shadow cabinet and a bit of background on the twin agendas he will now be responsible for in his new position on the NDP side of the House of Commons.

The preview of Cullen’s new tasks was the front page, headline story in Thursday’s paper.

He will comment on federal government’s decisions on energy and natural resources
By George T. Baker
The Daily News
Thursday, November 20, 2008
Pages one and five

In Ottawa, everyone who sits in opposition is a critic.

For Skeena-Bulkley Valley MP Nathan Cullen that concept has never been truer as he steps away from his old post as critic for the environment into his new role as critic for natural resources and energy.

He hopes to use the position to highlight ways in which the country can move forward.

“It seems like Ottawa is too often focused on the things we don’t want or are divisive like fish farms and offshore drilling,” said Cullen.

But Cullen still held out a lot of hope that he would be able to agree on numerous issues going forward with his Conservative counterparts, such as mining projects and more green energy jobs for the region.

And he said he is excited about the opportunity to take on a brand new portfolio.

“I like it – it’s a good one. It puts me right in the middle of the action again, perhaps in a different way but something that has a lot to do with the Northwest and on a lot of issues that are going to matter to people not just along the Skeena, but also across the nation,” said Cullen.

Cullen will be sitting across from the Conservative’s Lisa Raitt, who was recently appointed as the Minister of Natural Resources and Energy.

He said he looks forward to dealing with her in the future.

“I’ve talked to the minister, she is supposed to be one of their brighter stars on cabinet, and they have given me the assignment to take her on and make sure she follows through with some of the things they have already committed to,” said Cullen.

As President of the Toronto Port Authority, Raitt had launched a $6.8 million lawsuit against protestors who criticized the port authority’s efforts to re-industrialize the Toronto waterfront.

Claiming that the group Community AIR and seven of its directors were “zealous and unbalanced” in their waterfront advocacy, the suit demanded each activist pay $500,000 in damages for defamation.

The suit sought an additional $250,000 in aggravated damages and another $100,000 in punitive damages to the port authority, Raitt and two others.

The suit was eventually settled out of court and Community AIR apologized for their remarks.

Outside of matching wits with Raitt, Cullen said a couple of hot issues would remain front-and-centre for him.

“When I was environment critic, I was involved with a lot of issues in Skeena that were written large across the country. When it comes to energy, things like the Klappan, offshore oil drilling versus greener technology is exactly what the country is going to be seeing in the next few years,” said Cullen.

The issues have not been determined yet and Cullen said that Canada was going to start making tough choices about what kind of country it wants and what kind of future it wants.

He added that the Conservatives remain very bullish about offshore oil on the North Coast and that they have very little worry about spillage or ships running the ground.

“Depending on the year, they come up with different excuses. They are very consistent ignoring local concern and that is going to remain a struggle for us,” said Cullen.

No comments: