Five candidates seek Kootenay-Columbia seat

  • Apr. 6, 2011 1:00 p.m.

Campaign activities in the Kootenay-Columbia riding are in full swing with last week’s announcement of two more candidates running for MP in the May 2nd federal election.

Betty Aitchison, a Kimberley resident and candidate in the 2008 election, announced that she will be running as a Liberal candidate for the riding, while Bill Green, also from Kimberley, will be representing the Green party as Kootenay residents prepare to go to the polls next month.

David Wilks, Mayor of the district of Sparwood, won the Conservative nomination, Mark Shmigelsky, former District of Invermere Mayor will be representing the NDP and Kimberley resident Brent Bush will be running as an Independent.

Bush, who ran as a federal NDP candidate for the riding in 2004 and 2006, believes he will attract the votes of people from “across the political platform” who are disillusioned with the federal parties.

“I’m running as an Independent because our party-based political system is failing to represent the people it claims to serve. It’s all about political games and posturing now,” said Bush. “Canadian voters are clearly fed up with what’s going on in Ottawa.”

Bush said he is looking forward to talking to the constituents of the riding about what matters most to them. Above all, as an Independent candidate, he strives to offer effective representation without the party politics and games.

Shmigelsky understands the animosity that has grown towards party politics and the federal government, but believes now, more than ever, is the time to become engaged in our democracy.

“There’s only so many times we can turn a blind eye to what’s happening in parliament,” he said. “I look at what’s happening in Libya and Egypt; people dying for a fraction of what we have.”

Shmigelski’s campaign, among other issues, is focused on health care, affordability and representation.

“There are so many people who are working for little, or who have no job at all,” said Shmigelski. “Meanwhile, the government is giving billions away to corporations”

Shmigelski, who served two terms on council and one term as mayor for the district of Invermere, said he worked hard “each and every day” for those 15 years, the exact kind of work ethic he would bring to federal politics.

Bill Green, the recently announced Green Party candidate, hasn’t strayed far from the Kimberley-Cranbrook area yet with his campaign, but said that he’s looking forward to spending at least a bit of time in each of the larger communities around the riding.

Green said that so far, his campaign has hade two themes. The first is to make people aware that the Green Party has a comprehensive set of economic, social and other policies, like the other federal parties. The difference, then, he explained, is that the Green Party policies are embedded within a suite of environmental policies.

“The other theme of my campaign is re-invigorating our parliamentary system of democracy,” said Green. “I want to make as many people in our riding as possible familiar with the Green Party’s vision and policies to achieve true democracy. Democratic government at its best should represent all of us and bring us together to accomplish things we cannot accomplish alone. Our parliament should deal creatively and constructively with issues and spend taxpayers’ money prudently.”

Conservative candidate David Wilks said so far, his campaign is right on track.

“Jim (Abbott) served for 18 plus years, and he did a great job for his constituents,” said Wilks. “I’m going to take advantage of using him as a mentor in the past four weeks, and I’m looking forward to the challenge.”

Wilks’ emphasized the importance of focusing on the current government’s economic recovery package, keeping taxes low, ensuring tough-on-crime legislation, supporting the military (he has a son currently serving in Afghanistan) and ensuring equal access to health care for everyone.

Kootenay-Columbia’s most recent candidate, Betty Aitchison, said she is running once again because she wants to get the liberal message “out there.”

“Philosophically, I am a liberal, and always have been,” said Aitchison.

Aitchison ran in the last election, coming in fourth behind MP Jim Abbott, NDP candidate Leon Pendleton and Green Party candidate Ralph Moore.

One of her largest concerns revolves around women’s issues.

“Women are the giver of life, we have a tremendous amount to do with upbringing and the quality of life,” said Aitchison. “More doors are opening now for young women, but the doors definitely aren’t all the way open….I don’t think we’ve gotten to providing better services for women; the women who are the nurturer of our children and our future leaders.”

She believes Canada needs to focus on initiatives like creating a national daycare program. On a local scale, Aitchison points to resources like the Cranbrook Women’s Shelter that need more funding.

Watch out for the next three issues of the Golden Star to read more in-depth profiles on each federal candidate.