Former Columbia Basin Trust CEO Don Johnston has been acclaimed as the Liberal Party of Canada candidate for the Kootenay-Columbia riding in the fall federal election.
Johnston was handed the nomination when he was unopposed at the May 27 constituency meeting in Nelson’s Hume Hotel.
He makes it clear he is no fan of the Stephen Harper-led Conservative government.
“My Canada engages with the rest of the world and is ready to play the active role it has historically played,” he said. “My Canada is a Canada that respects democracy and that encourages political dialogue and active citizen engagement. My Canada is a place where the prime minister understands the importance of an independent Supreme Court that ensures the Charter of Rights and Freedoms is respected and adhered to in all areas of legislation and government functions.”
Shaun Govender, executive director of the Liberal Party of Canada in B.C., said that Johnston has much to offer Kootenay-Columbia.
“We are happy to have a candidate that can represent the entire Kootenay region in Ottawa,” he said. “Don Johnston’s experience, local knowledge and national connections offer voters from Golden to Creston the chance to be heard and to have an impact.”
Johnston grew up in the Kootenays and after graduating from L.V. Rogers Secondary School in Nelson he went on to 40-year career in community development in Canada and internationally. In the last 12 years, he has worked at the national level as president of two of Canada’s oldest volunteer organizations, Canada World Youth and Canadian Executive Service Organization, along with a six-year stint at the head of CBT.
“The first decision voters need to make is about the capacity of their MP to represent their riding in Ottawa,” he said. “Under Mr. Harper’s leadership MPs are expected to represent the party in the region. That needs to change. I accepted this challenge because the Liberal party will allow me to be a strong voice in Ottawa for local issues.
“If Justin Trudeau visits the riding he will be returning to a region he knows very well. If Stephen Harper visits Kootenay-Columbia it means he had to look at a map. That regional respect is critical.”
Johnston said Canada has changed under a Conservative government.
“There needs to be some myth busting about this government and its record,” he said. “The Conservative Party consistently presents itself as being the best in a number of areas but their record about what they are doing to Canada and its international reputation speaks to quite a different conclusion.”
Along with Johnston, competing for the chance to represent Kootenay-Columbia are incumbent Conservative MP David Wilks, NDP candidate Wayne Stetski and the Green Party’s Bill Green. The constituency boundaries were changed in 2012 and it now extends westward to include Nelson, Salmo and Kaslo.
Johnston will be introduced as the Liberal candidate for Kootenay-Columbia at a meeting at 7 p.m. June 6 at the Ramada Creston. The public is welcome to attend.