Atamanenko faces toughest challenge

Congratulations to Alex Atamanenko on another well-earned victory. The B.C. Southern Interior has given the NDP caucus member another strong show of support and again shown confidence in his ability to represent his constituents. Now the real work begins.

The next four years will be the most trying and difficult of the Castlegar-based politician’s public career. The incredible shift in Canadian politics means Atamanenko’s party has been handed a daunting responsibility. In his victory speech, he admitted it’s not going to be easy. He’s right.

When Atamanenko heads to Ottawa to meet with his new caucus, it will become glaringly obvious that the NDP will be keeping an eye on the Tories with a crew of rookies far from battle proven. The NDP’s historic triumph in Quebec was not predicted five weeks ago and many of those new MPs must have woken up Tuesday morning in a state of disbelief.

Now an Ottawa veteran, Atamanenko will be looked to for support. It will be exciting, but also distracting. With increased responsibility will come increased demands on his time, and in turn something will have to give. Will it be his work in the constituency that helped to get him elected? Only time will tell.

The other major local storyline coming out of Monday’s result is the continued failure of the riding’s right. Stephen Hill became the Conservatives’ third losing candidate.

To say the B.C. Southern Interior has a strong NDP tilt is not entirely accurate. Reform/Alliance/Conservative Jim Gouk held the riding for 11 years. He had a stranglehold and also seemed unbeatable. Then a charming, down-to-earth former school teacher wandered into the picture.

Atamanenko has his work cut out for him. The next four years will define his political career and leave voters with a true understanding of his worthiness for a third term.

— Nelson Star