New Dems ponder their federal candidate choices

By David F. Rooney

Local New Democrats met the man and woman who are vying for the nomination in the event of a federal election — not that there’s going to be one anytime soon.

Former Invermere mayor Mark Shmigelsky (left) gestures as he talks to the people who attended a federal New Democratic Party all-candidates meeting at the Knights of Pythias Hall on Saturday afternoon. That's his opponent , Rhonda Barter, in the background. David F. Rooney photo

Candidates Mark Shmigelsky and Rhonda Barter did their best on Saturday to convince local New Dems meeting at Knights of Pythias Hall that each was worthy of their support when the party meets in January to select its federal candidate. To date, no federal election has been called and while all parties are actively raising money for their war chests none is likely to be called before spring.

Regardless, the NDP wants to be prepared for the election that will eventually be called — an election that, for the first time in 17 years, will not feature MP Jim Abbott as the Conservative Party’s so-far unbeatable candidate. Abbott announced earlier this year that he will not seek re-election.

Barter, a businesswoman in Creston who once sought the provincial nomination in Nelson Creston, told the crowd that the people of the riding “want change — they want a woman candidate.”

She went on to tell Revelstoke New Dems that “Jim Abbott may be a nice guy but he hasn’t done anything” and that more needs to be done for the homeless and on the environment.

Shmigelsky, a former mayor of Invermere and former federal Liberal, said he supports small business and regards its success as critical to the economic prosperity of the riding.

He, too, took shots at Abbott and the Conservatives as divisive and unwilling to recognize that their unwillingness to deal with environmental issues will cost future generations.

The two candidates have been touring the riding looking for support prior to the party’s Jan. 15 nominating convention in Cranbrook.