Cannings wins Penticton NDP nomination

Environmentalist Dick Cannings will represent the NDP for Penticton in the May 2013 provincial election

Dick Cannings speaks to the audience at the provincial New Democratic Party nomination meeting Sunday at the Shatford Centre.

Dick Cannings speaks to the audience at the provincial New Democratic Party nomination meeting Sunday at the Shatford Centre.

With only two nominees to choose from, the NDP’s nomination meeting Sunday went faster than it might have.

There wasn’t any need for preferential ballots or multiple counts of the votes, explained Dick Cannings, who was vying with former Summerland councillor David Finnis for the position of NDP candidate for the Penticton riding. During a meeting in the Shatford Centre Sunday, Cannings was chosen by local NDP party members.

Cannings is a biologist, well-known birder and author of several books on the environment and natural history. He has also spent several years on the environmental appeal board and the forest appeals commission, travelling throughout B.C. and learning, he said, about how the government affects the lives of people as he listened to appeals from all sorts of people: guide outfitters, organic farmers, logging contractors, First Nations activists and real estate developers.

Cannings downplays his lack of direct political experience as compared to the Liberal candidate, Dan Ashton, who is currently mayor of Penticton.

“That cuts both ways. Dan has a lot of experience as a politician and knows how to run a good campaigns,” he said. But the public can be wary of politicians, Cannings continued, adding that Ashton might be seen as carrying some baggage from his time in municipal office.

For himself, Cannings stresses his roots in the Okanagan, and in B.C.

“I know this valley.  I know its beauty, its challenges and its potential,” he told party members attending the nomination meeting. “I also know British Columbia well.  I’ve written a dozen books about the province and its mountains, forests, oceans, and of course its birds.  You learn a lot about something when you write a book, but more importantly you realize how little you do know.”

Cannings hopes that his credentials as a biologist and an ecologist will help draw voters to the NDP who might have otherwise voted Green.

“I do have a pretty good profile in that regard” said Cannings.

In the last provincial election, the Green Party got 16 per cent of the vote in the riding, with the NDP candidate losing to Liberal Bill Barisoff by 11 per cent.

We can’t — and shouldn’t — tell people not to vote Green.  We have to show them that the NDP shares their concerns and beliefs” said Cannings. “I believe that my trusted profile in the environmental community would help there — I know there are a number of people here today that gave up their membership in the Green Party to support my bid for this nomination.”