Dick Cannings has decided to take another shot at politics, though this time he has his sights set on the federal level rather than provincial.
The Penticton biologist and author announced plans this week to seek the NDP nomination for the new South Okanagan-West Kootenay riding, hoping to run in the 2015 federal election.
Cannings entered into politics with the 2013 provincial election, running as the NDP candidate in the Penticton riding, which was won by Dan Ashton for the B.C. Liberals.
Though the NDP didn’t win the riding, Cannings said they were happy with the results, gaining 3,000 votes over the NDP turnout for the 2009 election. Several party members urged him to consider federal politics, he said, after NDP MP Alex Atamanenko announced he wouldn’t run again in 2015.
“Now that I know how much work it is, I did take a little longer in considering,” said Cannings, adding that he is very interested in federal politics.
“I think if anything, I am more concerned about where Canada is going than B.C. The present government is really on the wrong track and I thought it was important I get involved.”
The wrong track, explained Cannings, includes the federal Conservatives’ work on environmental protection, climate change initiatives, foreign policy and other issues.
“To me, this is a government heading in the wrong direction and I just want to get involved and try to reverse that in any way that I can,” said Cannings. “When I was knocking on doors last spring, people kept telling me how disappointed they were in the Harper government, and I had to agree wholeheartedly with them.”
Cannings also said he has some big shoes to fill if he expects to replace Atamanenko, who has held the B.C. Southern Interior riding through three elections.
“He’s done very well, I think he has been an exemplary MP for that riding and I am hoping that I can take his place in Ottawa,” said Cannings.
Cannings will also have to deal with a shift in voter demographics if he wins the NDP nomination. The new riding of South Okanagan-West Kootenay, which comes into effect with the next election, now includes Penticton and loses a section of the Kootenays.
Historically, Penticton has trended towards conservative, but Cannings said the NDP still have a good chance to win the riding.
“Every politician is an optimist, or they wouldn’t be there,” said Cannings. “It is a new riding and there is no incumbent, since Alex is stepping down. The Conservatives seem to be drifting downwards and the Liberals are doing better.
“There is a lot of balls in the air and I think it will be interesting to see how it pans out.”
Cannings has his own consulting business and is author of over a dozen books on B.C. He has served on the B.C. Environmental Appeal Board, the B.C. Forest Appeals Commission and the national board of the Nature Conservancy of Canada.
He can be found online at www.richardcannings.net.