A First Nations leader wants to take on federal politics and is seeking the NDP nomination for Nanaimo-Ladysmith.
Bob Chamberlin announced Wednesday that he is a contestant for the candidacy in the riding. He grew up and went to school in Nanaimo and lives in the riding.
Chamberlin, chief councillor of the Kwikwasutinuxw Haxwa’mis First Nation and vice-president of the Union of B.C. Indian Chiefs, said it was an easy decision for him to run as he’s been a lifelong NDP supporter.
“The NDP party platform and the principles are hand-in-glove with the personal principles and cultural principles that I maintain,” he said.
Chamberlin said NDP leader Jagmeet Singh has brought a fresh and strong perspective into the House of Commons immediately, and Chamberlin added that he supports nearly all New Democrat Party priorities.
“But as an MP for the Nanaimo-Ladysmith riding, it’s incumbent upon the member of Parliament to seek out and understand the issues that are dear to the riding and then find and develop and create ways within government to have those needs addressed,” he said. “I have every confidence that I’d be able to advance those.”
Chamberlin was recently First Nations chairman of a steering committee that worked with the provincial government toward closure of 17 open-pen fish farms in the Broughton Archipelago. He said wild salmon isn’t just a menu choice but a keystone species and a “canary in the coal mine” when it comes to ocean health.
Environmental protection remains a priority for him, he suggested, and said when it comes to major energy projects, the federal government’s consultation model has been developed, designed, implemented and decided upon by the Crown, which has precluded free, prior and informed consent of First Nations.
“We now need to take a really close, hard look at what are the impacts and identify them and then decide whether they are mitigatable which many I don’t believe are,” Chamberlin said.
He said in working with recent Conservative and Liberal governments, he’s felt “deep and sincere disappointment” and said recognition of aboriginal rights has been “very confined and minimalistic.” He said with major parties sharing support for the United Nations Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples, it’s an opportunity to have First Nations perspectives in government to work toward developing a just country.
Chamberlin said he doesn’t know whether a byelection will happen in Nanaimo-Ladysmith, but said he’ll be ready either way.
“I know that with the experience, skills and abilities that I have, there’s really nothing too much that I find intimidating about being a member of Parliament,” he said.
Earlier this week, Lauren Semple announced she was running for the NDP nomination in Nanaimo-Ladysmith and according to the electoral district association, other candidates have expressed interest but have not yet been confirmed as contestants.
All other major parties have candidates in place: John Hirst, Conservatives; Michelle Corfield, Liberals; Paul Manly, Green Party; Jennifer Clarke, People’s Party of Canada.