Cullen exits BC NDP leadership race

Skeena-Bulkley Valley MP Nathan Cullen will not be seeking the leadership of the BC NDP.

Nathan Cullen will not be seeking the leadership of the BC NDP.

The Skeena-Bulkley Valley MP announced on Friday he had decided to step aside from the contest to focus on his duties in Ottawa, where he also serves as Official Opposition House Leader.

“I gave it a long, hard look over the last couple of months and now have decided to keep on in my role as a federal MP for Skeena and work towards building that government we’ve so long wished for in 2015, which is when we expect the next election to be,” Cullen said. “We started something with Jack [Layton] and have continued so strongly with Tom [Mulcair]. I don’t think that job is done either.”

Some major issues will be decided federally for the province, like the Enbridge Northern Gateway pipeline, and Cullen said he felt he was well positioned to fight for the interests of residents of northwest B.C.

“British Columbia is really the battleground for us and the Conservatives,” he said.

“I think where a lot of this fight will happen is with Mr. Harper and what his visions are going to be for Canada and for B.C.”

Stikine MLA Doug Donaldson told The Interior News he had spoken with Cullen numerous times over the last couple of months and also felt the MP’s work federally could play a pivotal role in some key B.C. issues.

“Given the importance of the issues we face in the northwest that are influenced by the federal government it would be really good for him to try to win government in Ottawa… and that seems like it’s becoming more of a possibility,” Donaldson said.

Despite last May’s election disaster, Donaldson said he was confident in the future of the BC NDP.

“We’ve been doing some analysis and I don’t think that everything necessarily went wrong,” he said. “We need to look at a few things, make some adjustments. I think we have people in place who can become good leaders and lead us to a win in 2017.”

A decision on the timing of a leadership convention for the NDP has been put off until the Nov. 17 meeting of the party’s provincial council.