The Liberals have entered the race to replace outgoing Skeena-Bulkley Valley MP Nathan Cullen.
The party greenlighted former Fort St. James municipal councillor Dave Birdi as its candidate for the fall federal election on July 22.
Birdi is an Indo-Canadian resident of Fort St. James. He served on municipal council for 10 years prior to being defeated in the 2018 election.
He is currently economic development officer for Binche Whut’en First Nation.
A Liberal Party press release stated that Birdi was the only qualified nomination contestant to have successfully completed the nomination applications process in the riding. He was acclaimed at nomination meeting in Fort St. James July 24.
Birdi said he first announced his intention to run for the Liberal Party in early spring this year. He has lived in Fort St. James since the 1970s and has been involved with a number of volunteer community organizations in the past decade including Fort St. James TV and Radio Society, Fort St. James Youth Soccer and Stuart Lake Seniors Association.
He said his main focus as an MP would be around forestry.
“It is a high-value, high-tech industry that plays a central role in some of the most important issues of our time — combating climate changes, forest innovation and creating economic opportunities for rural and Indigenous communities,” he said. “Through our Softwood Lumber Action Plan, we are investing $867 million to support workers and communities to diversify our markets.”
Birdi is also concerned with opportunities for youth, support for elders and economic development.
“I am committed to working with Justin Trudeau to strengthen the middle class, create well-paying new jobs and offer real help for families right here in the Skeena-Bulkley Valley region,” he said.
“Canadians deserve a secure and dignified retirement after a lifetime of hard work. I will promote to help seniors stay independent for longer and receive care in their homes whenever possible. The Liberal government has made historic investments in dedicated finding for mental health and home care services.”
Birdi believes he is eminently qualified to represent concerns of Skeena-Bulkley Valley highlighting work experience in a sawmill, the financial sector and with Indigenous communities.
Birdi becomes the fifth candidate vying for the MP job.
First out of the blocks were the Conservatives who announced on February 20 that Claire Rattee, a Kitimat business woman had defeated three other candidates.
Next up was Christian Heritage Party leader Rod Taylor of Telkwa, who was acclaimed at his party’s annual general meeting in Smithers February 22.
Following Cullen’s announcement March 1 he would be retiring, four candidates battled for the NDP nomination culminating with Smithers Mayor Taylor Bachrach prevailing at a nomination meeting in Terrace May 25 on the first ballot.
On May 31, the upstart People’s Party of Canada chose Jody Craven—who had previously challenged Rattee for the Cosnervative nomination—as its candidate.
The 2019 general election is scheduled for Oct. 19.
With files from Aman Parhar