Face-off for the provincial seat - candidates for NDP nomination debate
Fresh off the federal elections in May, with municipal elections set for November, political pundits anticipate that the provincial government will call their election sometime in the coming months. Taking steps to prepare for the eventual call to the polls, the Boundary-Similkameen New Democratic Party (NDP) Constituency Association has been busy introducing their two candidates. In Grand Forks at the Wildlife Hall on Saturday, Jun. 25, the last stop of three debates between the candidates, the association held a candidates forum for introductions, information and fundraising. At this point, determining the NDP candidate is a matter relevant only to card-carrying NDP members. The two nominees must vie for majority support of the membership to win the candidacy, and therefore the opportunity to electioneer against other political parties in the provincial bid for the Boundary-Similkameen riding. Forum moderator Margaret Maximenko was spot on during introductions, commenting that the two nominees are, “the best Oliver has to offer.” The nominees for candidacy are both middle-aged women from Oliver: Rhonda Bruce and Marji Basso (Grand Forks Mayor Brian Taylor was also a nominee, but dropped out early in the campaign.) Obviously the NDP representative at provincial election time for this riding will have roots in the Similkameen where their support is already solidified; but to secure this position it seems likely the winner will be whoever garners more support from members of the Boundary. From an experience standpoint, Basso seems the champion. Formerly a schoolteacher and now serving her second term with Oliver Municipal Council, Basso also has strong ties to her aboriginal community. “If elected, I would look to the party for what they need in my position,” said Basso. Above all else, Basso would like to see, “responsible and transparent government. Our current government doesn’t communicate, and that needs to change.” In contrast, Bruce is more of a specialist. She is a health care worker, and also a Regional Vice-President of the Hospital Employee’s Union. Bruce recognizes the need for more jobs that have job security, and advocates for a “living wage.” She is also critical of current government practices, “We have to open up those private contracts (between government & corporations) to see what’s in there. BC Hydro should be making the electricity money, not a private company… They say there’s no money in health care, well then why is the private sector ready to jump in? There’s money there!” Bruce added. Both candidates held their political own: they had a great sense of the issues, could dodge a question if the answer would be too controversial, and were capable of convincing, articulate speech. During question period, an audience member justifiably asked, “Can we elect them both?” Possibly, afterward, speaking with an association executive, it appears there may be a way of electing them both. While only one candidate can represent this riding, there is still no NDP nominee in Penticton. That scenario will have to wait until the end of August because voting for this constituency, between these two nominees will take place in the first weeks of August, with a ballot cut-off time of 5:00 p.m. Friday, August 19, 2011. So between now and the cut-off, if you are an NDP member, expect to see more of the candidates, especially at your doorstep. Both Marji Basso and Rhonda Bruce seem deserving of the candidacy, but who can attract your support?
Staying objective, the Boundary Sentinel offers best of luck to the nominees!