ELECTION 2015: Former Cranbrook mayor takes on Wilks under federal NDP banner

Former Cranbrook mayor Wayne Stetski has been declared the local NDP candidate

In the 2011 federal election, the biggest threat to the Conservative Party’s Kootenay-Columbia seat were the NDP — and they’ve now selected their candidate who will try and unseat incumbent David Wilks in 2015.

Former Cranbrook mayor Wayne Stetski has been declared the local NDP candidate, and he says the riding has a few new reasons to vote for change.

According to Stetski, Wilks will toe the party line even if it’s not in the best interests of his constituents.

“Since David’s been in Ottawa, every vote’s been a whipped vote,” Stetski said. “My concern lies with representing my constituents and their interests, and I won’t be shy to learn what’s important to the Kootenay-Columbia constituents and taking the concerns to Ottawa, which I don’t think has been happening.”

He mentioned many problems in the riding that could be solved with better federal management, including upgrades to Highway 1 and 3, affordable housing, an unreasonable minimum wage, and assisted daycare. On a larger scale, Stetski believes that scientific knowledge and the health of the environment are eroding under the Harper Government, and that the Conservatives have treated Canadian veterans very poorly — especially over the past year.

“We need to continue to grow our economy, and we need to do that in the context of a healthy environment.”

The only realistic way to remove Conservative representation from the Kootenay Columbia is to vote strategically, he said, and the hypothetical idea of a coalition under a NDP or Liberal minority government will be discussed later in his campaign.

“People who have traditionally voted Green or Liberal will have to ask themselves, what is the best way we can make sure that Harper Conservative government no longer continues to take Canada apart and create the kind of damage that he has. The answer to that in this riding — at least one time — vote NDP.”