Former Cranbrook mayor Wayne Stetski has announced his intention to run for member of Parliament under the New Democratic Party banner in the Kootenay-Columbia federal riding this fall.
“Stephen Harper has inflicted serious damage on our country, making it more and more difficult to recognize the Canada we know and love,” he said.
Stetski, who was defeated after one term as mayor in November, will be confirmed as the NDP candidate at a nominating convention in Cranbrook on Sunday.
“Whether it is our reputation on the international stage or our record on protecting the lakes and rivers we love, Stephen Harper’s record is embarrassing for Canadians,” he said. “I’m not just running against Stephen Harper’s record, I’m running because I believe that the people of this area deserve to be represented by someone who is willing to stand up and fight for their interests.”
A longtime public servant, Stetski spent 22 years as a manager with BC Parks in Vancouver Island, the Lower Mainland and the Kootenays before assuming the Kootenay regional manager’s role with the BC Ministry of Environment. In that position he was responsible for fish and wildlife, BC Parks and ecosystems. He also served as co-chair of the Columbia Basin Fish and Wildlife Compensation Program and was the provincial authority member of the Creston Valley Wildlife Management Area. He has a bachelor of science degree in ecology with a minor in economics, and a teaching certificate.
“Since his election in 2011, David Wilks has been heard saying he is not allowed to vote the way his constituents want him to in Parliament,” Stetski said. “He can only vote the way Stephen Harper tells him to, even when his constituents tell him that they strongly disagree.
“Democracy is poorly served by silencing a whole region in this way. The people of Kootenay-Columbia deserve better. There is only one person in parliament whose job it is to represent the people of Kootenay-Columbia. I’m going to be that strong voice in Ottawa.”
His campaign officially kicks off on Sunday at the Manual Training Centre in Cranbrook at 1 pm. The public is welcome.
“I’m looking forward to a great campaign,” he said. “It is clear that if we want to defeat the Conservatives in this area we will all need to work together to elect an NDP MP.
“I’ll be travelling throughout this area meeting with people across the riding right through until election day. I’m looking forward to getting reacquainted with old friends and making a whole bunch of new ones. We’ll see you all on the campaign trail!”
Stetski has been married to his wife Audrey for 36 years and has three adult children and a granddaughter. Opponents announced to date are the incumbent Wilks and Green Party candidate William Green.
After five landslide victories by Jim Abbott, under the Reform, Alliance and Conservative banners, former RCMP member and mayor of Sparwood Wilks romped to victory in 2011 by a nearly 10,000-vote margin over the NDP’s Mark Shmigelsky. Wilks captured 55.88 per cent of the vote.