Cullen pleased with NDP leadership race, not so with proposed changes to Fisheries Act

Nathan Cullen, MP for Skeena-Bulkley Valley, intends to finish the federal NDP leadership race with as much energy as he set out with.

With just a week to go, Nathan Cullen, MP for Skeena-Bulkley Valley, intends to finish the race for the federal NDP leadership with as much energy as he set out with.

Cullen, is pleased with the way his campaign has progressed, despite some initial doubts among pundits as to whether he would make it to the finish line.

Although the majority of his funding has come from B.C., Cullen said that emphasis has shifted to include more donations from other areas of the country.

“I’m the only candidate from B.C. so it’s only natural, but it has been spreading out across the country as we’ve gained momentum and spent more time across the country,” he explained.

On the campaign trail, Cullen said he has been sharing the Skeena issues, including the potential Enbridge pipeline as well as highlighting the way politics are done in the Skeena-Bulkley Valley district.

“It’s resonating right across the country,” Cullen said.

“It’s allowed us to stand out.”

Nonetheless, Cullen admitted his campaign was not one of the front-runners, but at the same time said he enjoyed the leadership campaign.

Cullen also expressed concern the federal Conservative Party was planning to make changes to the Fisheries Act, including removing the word ‘habitat’

“They’re trying to ram that change through a budget bill,” Cullen said.

The change would effect Section 35.1 of the Fisheries Act, essentially eliminating the government’s responsibility of protecting fish habitat.

“It’s one of the most critical parts of the Fisheries Act,” Cullen said.

“If they do this, they’ll rip the heart out of the Fisheries Act.”

Cullen suggested the proposed change was a move targeted at facilitating the approval of the Enbridge pipeline.

Speaking to the recent decision by Smithers Town Council to oppose the Enbridge pipeline, Cullen foresaw a difficult time ahead for Enbridge and the federal government.

“The way they’ve treated our communities, insulting people by calling them radicals and enemies of the state has made it very difficult to stand on side supporting them,” he said.

“They’ve poisoned the well in the northwest, they’ve dealt very harshly with people.”

Another key policy move by the Conservative Party that caught Cullen’s attention, is putting a time limit on the amount of time allocated for the completion of environmental impact assessments.

Environmental assessments not completed within the prescribed time frame, even if it was the result of stalling tactics by the company seeking approval, would default to an approval Cullen explained.

“So it’s actually to the company’s advantage to not come forward, have the public conversation and bring the science to bear,” Cullen said.

Looking back on the leadership race Cullen said the best part has been listening to people in other regions of the province and the country, speaking about the northwest.

“That’s just so encouraging because we’re so far away from the political action,” Cullen said.

“Hearing people right across the country talking about our home fills me with pride.”