Two candidates after NDP nomination

  • Dec. 5, 2012 7:00 p.m.

The race is on to fill Gary Coons’s spot as the North Coast NDP candidate in the May 2013 provincial election. Two candidates have come forward in the past couple of weeks, and there may be more. So far, Prince Rupert councillor Jennifer Rice and Prince Rupert Teachers’ Union president Joanna Larson have announced that they are seeking the nomination. Mr. Coons decided over the summer that he won’t be running again, after serving two terms as the North Coast MLA. NDP members in the riding will be choosing the new candidate Jan. 26. NDP rules require that a retiring MLA be replaced by a candidate who is a woman or a member of an under-represented group. Being president of the Prince Rupert Teachers’ Union was a winning path to the NDP nomination for Mr. Coons, who served as union president for three years before jumping into provincial politics in 2005. The current teachers’ union president, Ms Larson, said she was inspired to run by Mr. Coons’ strong leadership. “I believe it is important to continue with the strong leadership Gary Coons has shown in our riding,” she said, “and I believe I’m the right person to do that based on my experience as a labour leader, community activist and educator of over 20 years.” In addition to her experience with the Rupert teachers’ union, Ms Larson has served on the BC Teachers’ Federation and a non-profit childcare society. She moved to Lax Kw’alaams in 1998 to teach and has lived with her family in Prince Rupert since 2000. Married with two childre, she completed a bachelor’s degree at McGill University and a master’s degree at Simon Fraser. Jennifer Rice works for the T. Buck Suzuki Environmental Foundation and was elected to Prince Rupert city council last year. She is the past chair of Friends of Wild Salmon, a northern BC coalition of community groups, First Nations, commercial and recreational fishermen with the common value of protecting wild salmon, and has been active in opposing the Enbridge pipeline and oil tanker traffic. “With tenacity and integrity I want to continue advocating for the North Coast and Haida Gwaii and be of service to help see this region flourish,” Ms Rice said. “Working with the NDP caucus to help develop a provincial strategy that is not only economically but environmentally sustainable that gets us through the short term and sees us thrive in the long term is an important goal of mine.”