By Alex Rinfret–Conservative leader Stephen Harper was in our riding briefly over the Christmas break, making an afternoon visit to Prince Rupert on Thursday December 29.
Mr. Harper toured the Prince Rupert Grain Terminal and the Ridley Coal Terminal with local Conservative candidate Mike Scott. He said a Conservative government would deliver at least the five-year federal funding commitment of $591-million for the “Pacific gateway initiative” and expand west coast port commitments in the future. He said the second phase of the Rupert container port and related road and rail links would be priorities.
Mr. Scott said spin off benefits from the Rupert container port will help diversify the northern economy to include marine, truck and rail maintenance as well as service industries like insurance and tourism.
Mr. Harper also said he would remove federal borrowing limits for BC ports and freeze the sale of the Ridley Coal Terminal until a review is completed.
Mr. Scott is now preparing for a week of all-candidates debates throughout the riding which begin Jan. 5, said campaign coordinator Derrick Curtis. The Conservative candidate will definitely visit the islands, but not until sometime in the week of Jan. 15, Mr. Curtis said.
Meanwhile, NDP candidate Nathan Cullen, the incumbent MP, was glowing after receiving enthusiastic endorsements from former Skeena MP Jim Fulton and former NDP leader Ed Broadbent.
Mr. Broadbent, who represented an Ottawa riding in the last Parliament but is now retiring, said Mr. Cullen has been a hard-working representative of this region since he was elected in 2004.
“Rarely have I seen such a combination of energy and creativity in a young MP,” Mr. Broadbent wrote. “In the House of Commons, he is greatly admired as a vital member of the NDP caucus but he also commands a great deal of respect from members of other political parties.”
Mr. Fulton, the former islander who was Skeena MP from 1979 until 1993, said people have stopped him in the street in Masset and other communities to tell him what a great job Mr. Cullen is doing.
“Without a moment’s hesitation I endorse Nathan as the best, hardest-working MP in the country,” Mr. Fulton wrote.
Taylor Bachrach, Mr. Cullen’s communications coordinator, said there is a good chance that NDP leader Jack Layton will visit the riding before the Jan. 23 election, but there’s nothing firm yet.
Liberal candidate Gordon Stamp-Vincent visited the islands Monday and Tuesday, meeting with people and groups from Sandspit to Masset. He said the heritage centre in Skidegate is a wonderful opportunity for all islanders and said he’s committed to help finish it. He said he wasn’t sure he’d make it back here before the vote on January 23, but said that after the election, he definitely will be back.
There are at least two other candidates in this riding: Rod Taylor for the Christian Heritage Party, and Phil Brienesse for the Green Party. Both are from Smithers.
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