By Shannon Quesnel
Biologist Richard 'Dick' Cannings is ready to take the job of being the Penticton MLA.
Two NDP veterans said as much on Wednesday at the NDP Penticton campaign office. Former MLA Jim Beattie and BC Southern Interior MP Alex Atamanenko were there to boost Cannings profile for the May 14 provincial election.
Cannings is up against Liberal candidate Dan Ashton, who is also Penticton's mayor, and BC First candidate Doug Maxwell. Current independent MLA Bill Barisoff was ejected from the Liberal party and will not be running in this election.
Cannings and Beattie countered the notion the Penticton and Okanagan areas are Liberal strongholds. The two men said Penticton has a strong social streak running through it.
Beattie was the NDP MLA for this area from 1991 to 1996 and Bill Barlee was the NDP MLA from 1988 to 1991.
"I think we are a pretty good sell anywhere," Atamanenko said.
Beattie said Cannings is a biologist and an environmentalist which makes him a great choice. People are more concerned than ever about global warming and water conservation, especially in the Okanagan area.
Atamanenko said change is needed.
"This is very important to me that we throw these guys out. I feel our province has stood all it can. Once we win and once we get Dick elected, and people like him, this will send a strong message to Mr. Harper and the rest of Canada."
Cannings wants a reversal on people leaving B.C. for work.
"We had some of the best small business growth in Canada. We had people moving into British Columbia."
The NDP candidate said there are practical things an NDP government can do to turn things around.
"But we are in a difficult fiscal situation right now. The Liberals have put up seven deficit budgets."
Atamanenko called out everyone to vote for the NDP, especially those in the labour movement. He wants his provincial NDP counterparts to be given a shot at running the province.
"If we don't perform, throw us out in four years."
Cannings said people are tired of Liberal politics, especially their election advertising.
"The people are not buying it (anymore)," he said.
To contact a reporter for this story, email Shannon Quesnel at firstname.lastname@example.org or call 250-488-3065.