MP Cullen undecided about running again

Nathan Cullen was first elected to represent Skeena-Bulkley Valley in 2004.

Skeena-Bulkley Valley MP Nathan Cullen (left) giving a statement at the Gitdumden blockade earlier this month. (Facebook photo)

Skeena-Bulkley Valley NDP MP Nathan Cullen has yet to make up his mind about running again in this fall’s federal election.

Speaking last week, Cullen said his eventual decision will only be reached after discussions with his family.

“I haven’t made the call yet,” said Cullen in adding he had been talking to people and his family with an intended expectation of coming to a decision over the Christmas holiday period.

“I’ve always said I should go on until there’s someone who can do this a lot better than me,” he said.

Crucial to his eventual decision will be balancing his family with his political responsibilities, Cullen added.

“So far we’ve been able to make it work,” the MP said of wife Diana and twin sons, now in Grade 3.

Cullen’s family lives in Ottawa but the MP often returns to the area, travelling extensively through the riding which has the smallest population of all the province’s federal ridings but is also the largest in terms of size.

The MP said he’s also holding off on announcing any decision until the Burnaby South by-election of Feb. 25 is over.

“I don’t want what I decide to be a distraction,” said Cullen of the by-election in which federal NDP leader Jagmeet Singh is running.

Singh’s candidacy comes amid speculation the federal party is on the decline and that should Singh lose, he’ll resign, opening the door to a leadership race. And that’s brought on further speculation that Cullen, now one of the senior members of the NDP caucus in Ottawa, will be a leadership candidate.

“Nope. I’ve been pretty clear,” said Cullen about any leadership thoughts. “That’s not where my head’s at.”

First elected in 2004, Cullen was re-elected in 2006, 2008, 2011 and in 2015, meaning this fall’s election would be his sixth. In each of his last three election victories, Cullen received at least 50 per cent of the vote.

Cullen has held a number of senior critic positions within the NDP caucus in Ottawa and has been recognized several times for his performance, including being called Parliamentarian of the Year for 2018 by Maclean’s magazine based on voting by MPs from all parties.

In 2012 Cullen ran for the federal NDP leadership following the death of Jack Layton. Tom Mulcair was elected but Cullen surprised many by placing third, a circumstance that then raised his profile across the country.

He was also front and centre when the Liberal government, following its 2015 election win, began a process to replace the current first-past-the-post system of electing MPs and was harshly critical when the Liberals abandoned the effort.

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