MP Nathan Cullen ready for election call

  • Sep. 3, 2008 6:00 a.m.

Skeena-Bulkley Valley MP Nathan Cullen says he is ready to hit the campaign trail as soon as Prime Minister Stephen Harper calls an election, something he expects to happen this week. Mr. Cullen, a member of the NDP who was first elected in 2004 and again in 2006, said lots of volunteers have been reporting in to his campaign office to prepare for the expected election call. The Skeena riding is one of the largest in Canada but Mr. Cullen said he is used to travelling across it after four years in office. Campaigning will be just like his normal work but without the constant trips between the riding and Ottawa, he said. He’s still driving the Subaru that got him through his first campaign. It now has about 150,000 km on it. “It’s a good little car,” he said. “It’s travelled every corner of this province… It’s my second home, if not my first.” The higher cost of gas means that he will change from making lots of short but frequent visits to the communities in the riding, to longer ones. While on Haida Gwaii last week, Mr. Cullen said he heard lots of talk from islanders about commercial fishing issues and the ferry. He said he wants to look further into the low prices commercial fishermen are receiving for their catch. “It’s bad for business, bad for the community,” he said. Concerns about the ferry service between the Charlottes and the mainland, especially about the fares, are widespread. Everywhere he went, he said, islanders told him that the rising freight costs have made the already-high cost of living here go through the roof. The closure of the Massett Recreation Centre was on the minds of many in the north end. Mr. Cullen said he spoke to some who are forming a group to try and save the centre. “It is very disappointing to me,” he said of the closure. “Having things for young folks to do is so important.” Mr. Cullen said federal assistance might well be available to save the rec centre or build a new one and that he is ready to help if anyone approaches him about it. When the Haida and non-Haida communities work together, he said, the results are usually successful. Mr. Cullen said he’s already asking for federal money for future Haida children’s homecoming events, after attending the community feasts held last week in Old Massett and Skidegate. The homecoming – which saw 55 Haida children in care across the province come to the islands for several days with their caregivers and social workers – was “one of the best things I ever attended in my life,” he said. “I see this as really important, the feds should be doing something to support this,” he added. “Doing it on a regular basis is super-important. This is going to be a big issue for me.”

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