Penticton candidate seeks NDP role

Richard Cannings of Penticton has announced he's seeking NDP nomination for new South Okanagan-West Kootenay riding.

A second candidate has declared his intention to seek the NDP nomination for the new South Okanagan-West Kootenay riding.

Richard Cannings, 59, a biologist and author from Penticton, announced his candidacy this week to replace current NDP MP Alex Atamanenko who will not seek re-election in the 2015 federal election.

Cannings ran as a provincial NDP candidate in Penticton during the 2013 provincial election. He garnered 40 per cent of the popular vote but lost the riding to the Liberals’ Dan Ashton, the former Penticton mayor, who drew 47 per cent of the vote.

Nevertheless, Cannings local support could bode well in the new South Okanagan-West Kootenay riding.

“I think the population of the riding is fairly well balanced between the Okanagan Valley and the Boundary-West Kootenay region,” he told the Trail Times via email. “The addition of Penticton and the loss of Nelson will make it more challenging to win this riding for the NDP, but I think my profile in the Okanagan will be an asset in that regard.”

Addressing the concerns of such a large region, with urban and rural voters, will be a challenge he’s eager to take on.

“This is indeed a large, very diverse riding, from the industrial workforces of Trail and Castlegar to the agriculture and tourism of the Okanagan. I would certainly follow the lead of Alex Atamanenko and have two constituency offices, one in the West Kootenay and one in the Okanagan, each with an assistant well versed in that part of the riding.  Alex has represented the diverse voices in this riding very well, and I hope to do the same.”

Cannings has served on the BC Environmental Appeal Board, the BC Forest Appeals Commission and the national board of the Nature Conservancy of Canada, which gives him strong insight into the current policies of the ruling Progressive Conservatives.

“When I was knocking on doors last spring, people kept telling me how disappointed they were in the Harper government, and I had to agree whole-heartedly with them,” said Cannings in a pres release.

He told the Trail Times he’ll push for better environmental standards when it comes to growing the economy.

“It’s no secret that I come from a scientific and environmental background, so the biggest issue I have right now with the Harper government is its short-sighted drive towards short-term profits with total disregard to environmental costs, both here in B.C. and globally through climate change.

“I think we should be developing our natural resources in a more careful manner with more thought to cumulative impacts at home and meeting the international agreements we’ve signed on to, including the Kyoto Protocol.”

Cannings joins  Margaret Maximenko, a Christina Lake resident, as two declared candidates for the NDP nomination.

The candidate for the riding is expected to be selected in the spring. In an interview in November, Atamanenko told the Trail Times no date for the nomination meeting will be set until the official declaration to amalgamate the riding with Penticton and a new riding association is created.

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