REPORTING · 7th April 2011
NDP Incumbent, Nathan Cullen opened his Kitimat office on April 1st. The ‘meet and greet’ was well attended and Cullen arrived after a day of knocking on doors. We had few minutes to talk to Cullen and ask him a few questions about the election.
Cullen explained how this election is a disappointment. “The reason the election is on is because the government wasn’t being truthful about the budget. They were going to spend 10’s of millions of dollars on prisons and planes but were not going to tell parliament the truth. The speaker found them in contempt which is serious. It is essentially saying you were lying and misleading Canada’s Parliament. The government wouldn’t back down and it came down to a vote which said: ‘Either tell us the truth about the budget, about these new ideas you have for planes and prisons or else you’ll be brought into contempt and brought down,’ which is unfortunate. I take no satisfaction in that,” said Cullen.
He wondered how his Conservative colleagues were willing to vote blindly on such a budget. He stated people would not be willing to do this at even a local service club.
Locally, one of the hot issues in Cullen’s Riding is the Enbridge pipeline proposal. “We’ve been pretty clear and transparent saying we’ve looked at the project long and hard. The risks are not worth the few benefits that come. The risks are obviously real, either on the pipeline side or the tanker side and that the few jobs that are being offered up can’t compensate for even a single accidents and the way Enbridge deals with accidents has been proven out of Michigan. Not very respectful,” said Cullen.
On the Halibut Policy, he stated the Conservatives have been driving the privatisation of the resource and fish are going to become privately owned rather owned by then public. This has caused grief through out the industry. The NDP hopes to change the view of the government.
“We’re fighting [for sustainable fishing rights for] Halibut right from the top on down and we’ve been battling it for months in parliament. I think we’re going to win this one because the government is in some trouble,” said Cullen.
With all the talk about debt and deficits using money borrowed from private international bankers, we asked the incumbent if he thought Canada should print it’s money at zero percent interest to help industry and the economy. He replied it is a question that does not come up often and not in Ottawa itself. He said he is in favour of changing the way Canadians manage their money. He said currency policy is interesting.
Moving away from Canada, we asked about the tragedy in Japan. We have been told Canadian citizens who were working in Japan are unable to get in touch with their government for help. In addition, the aid supplied from Canada to Japan has been abysmal.
“It wouldn’t be the first time the Government has failed to communicate with the public. They seem to be allergic to transparency and we see that time and time again. That they weren’t prepared and able to communicate with the public,” said Cullen.
Cullen explained that Japan has to ask for help first. “The worst thing you can do in a crisis is go in and do things the locals don’t actually want. It’s been a sit back and wait, there has been some donations, cash but the government hasn’t put forward a plan. They say they are in negotiations with the Japanese but up to this point I haven’t seen anything concrete come out of… There has been commitments of money, that’s about it.”
On the topic of Libya, Cullen said the NDP have asked for full mission status updates. A lot of Canadian citizens are concerned about us being drawn into another war, which the incumbent shares. He said the decision came quick and he is unsure on what the rules of engagement are.
“We need to know what the rules of engagement are, how long is this war going to last? Is our involvement only planes?” asks Cullen.
Cullen expects Jack Layton and the NDP to do great in the election. “The quality of Candidates we are running are the best we’ve ever run, the quality of the campaign we are running federally is the best we’ve ever done. I think we will tend to do as well as we ever have,” said Cullen.