Conservative candidate says race will be close

  • Jan. 20, 2006 8:00 a.m.

Conservative candidate Mike Scott says it’s down to a “two-horse race” in the Skeena-Bulkley Valley riding, with only himself and NDP candidate Nathan Cullen having a realistic chance of being elected on Monday.
“It’s very much going to come down to the last couple of hundred votes,” Mr. Scott told the Observer Friday. “There’s no question in this riding here there’s a split. On election day we’re going to see a very tight race.”
The campaign has been long and grueling, Mr. Scott said. Winter conditions and the sheer size of this riding have combined to make it challenging to reach out to voters, and he probably won’t be able to make a campaign stop on the Charlottes, he said, although he was still thinking about the possibility of a last-minute trip over the weekend.
On Friday, he was occupied with responding to the announcement by the Lax Kwalaams and Metlakatla First Nations that they are opposed to the container port project in Prince Rupert because the federal government has not adequately consulted with them.
“My phone has been ringing off the hook with people who are incensed,” Mr. Scott said. “The Conservative Party is not going to allow this container port to fall through the cracks.”
Mr. Scott, who was MP for the Skeena riding from 1993 to 2000, admitted he has had “difficult” relationships with First Nations leaders in the northwest. He was an outspoken critic of the Nisga’a treaty, which was signed during his tenure, and said his opinion of the treaty has not changed at all.
The Observer asked him if this would be a challenge if he is elected MP, and he responded that “Obviously, I wish it wasn’t that wayÂ… I don’t expect the leadership to support me but I do expect to be able to talk to people in a civilized way.”
The Conservative Party has more support among off-reserve aboriginal people, he said. Mr. Scott added that he has had a good relationship with “grassroots aboriginal people” who sought help with issues when he was MP.
Mr. Scott said treaties are absolutely necessary, but he does not like the slow pace of negotiations and said it is vital to speed things up.

“I think what we need to do is establish firm timelines,” he said. “It impacts on our resource communities, and our economy.”
On another hot issue, Mr. Scott said voters in this riding tell him they feel strongly about keeping the definition of “marriage” restricted to a man and a woman, and are opposed to legislation passed earlier this year which allows same-sex couples to marry. Mr. Scott said he shares those concerns.
“I cannot support the definition of marriage extending to homosexual people, it’s not right for society,” he said. “I will vote to keep the original definition of marriage and rescind this decision.”
The Conservative Party is not opposed to legally recognized unions, with full benefits and rights, to same-sex couples, he said – simply the use of the word “marriage” to define these unions.