National leadership candidate visits riding

Young Quebec MPs will also tour West Kootenay region

Local New Democrats will get a chance to meet one of the main contenders for the party’s national leadership this weekend, as well of some of its young new MPs from Quebec.

Brian Topp will speak at the banquet following the local riding association’s annual general meeting Saturday in Castlegar.

Topp, until recently the national NDP president, is favoured by some NDP heavyweights such as former leader Ed Broadbent,

Topp is on a regional tour that coincides with the B.C. Southern Interior NDP’s AGM, The Members of Parliament are on a separate tour of the riding organized by MP Alex Atamanenko.

“It is not an indication that he is favoured, he just happens to be touring the area,” said Vince Salvo, a director the NDP riding association, The retired college instructor and administrator hasn’t decided who he will support in the late-March leadership vote.

“My personal favourite was (Burnaby MP) Peter Julian, but he has decided not to run. We have five or six months before we have to make a decision and there may be more candidates coming out.”

Riding association treasurer Laurie Charlton also has yet to decide who he will support.

“There has been very little that has come out from any of the candidates. I am looking forward to listening to Brian. He will be the first to visit the riding. That will stand him in good stead that he has decided to come out here.

“Other than him and (returning Quebec MP) Thomas Mulcair, not much is known about the candidates.

. I am a long way from making up my mind as to who would be the best leader. I hope more candidates visit the riding. It is always nice to meet someone and get a measure of who they are in person.”

The other declared NDP leadership candidates are MPs Nathan Cullen and Brian Dewar, lawyer and native leader Romeo Saganash, and Nova Scotia entrepreneur Martin Singh.

With the Quebec MPs and a leadership candidate now attending, the price of the roast beef banquet has bee chopped from $100 to $40 to make it more affordable.

“We are trying to make it available so it isn’t prohibitive,” Salvo said. “One hundred dollars is fairly steep, especially these days, so we reassessed what we are trying to achieve.”

In addition to the AGM and banquet, the three Quebec MPs will attend Selkirk student functions Friday in Castlegar and Nelson “They’re young but there is a lot of talent there,” Salvo said. “It is exciting to see young people getting involved in activities and the political process. Democracy thrives on participation and nothing kills democracy, at least in our culture, more than apathy.”

Their visit is a chance for new MPs “to start to get to know the rest of Canada, and people here can find out about them and what is happening in Quebec,” Atamanenko said in a news release.

For information or to reserve tickets, contact 250-365-7633 or snowdance@shaw.ca