Independent candidate Brent Bush announced today he is stepping out of the race for MP of Kootenay-Columbia and throwing his support behind NDP candidate Mark Shmigelsky.
“I’ve come to the political and financial limitations of my campaign and I realize Mark Shmigelsky of the NDP has the best chance of defeating the Conservatives in this riding,” he told the Times Review Thursday morning. “I think that’s extremely important because I fear what’s coming from a Harper majority.
“I guess I’m asking independents, I’m asking Liberals, I’m asking Greens, I’m asking the undecided to put aside their party allegiances and vote for that one person who will be able to defeat the Conservative candidate.”
Bush, who ran for the NDP in 2004 and 2006, was considered a long shot in the campaign. His primary policy plank was re-negotiation of the Columbia River Treaty. The 1964 treaty can be re-opened starting in 2014 and Bush stressed the need to make sure Canadians got a deal from its successor and that it addressed issues such as climate change.
“I thought some important issues needed to be raised. I needed to ask a few questions out on the campaign trail,” he said. “I think I’ve raised the public’s awareness about the Columbia River Treaty. People really do need to pay attention to this because control of water is going to be power in the very near future.”
Bush’s name will still appear on the ballot but he is asking all supporters of other candidates to unite behind Shmigelsky to defeat Conservative candidate David Wilks.
The announcement comes as the NDP is enjoying a nation-wide surge that has seen it jump past the Liberals into second place nationally in most polls.
Shmigelsky said Bush’s announcement caught him by surprise but he was honoured by it.
“I just heard about it after a reporter phoned me and told me about it,” he said. “He’s a great guy and I’m honoured to have his endorsement. I can only assume he saw what’s happening out there across the nation in terms of a movement towards change and he made his decision.”
In a statement responding to Bush’s announcement, Wilks pointed to past criticism by Brent Bush of NDP leader Jack Layton.
“I find it interesting that a candidate who once stated that, ‘Jack Layton seems to have forgotten that the people of Kootenay-Columbia come first,’ is now backing the NDP,” wrote Wilks. “In fact, Brent went so far as to say, ‘Whenever the next federal election occurs it will be a time for NDP members and supporters alike to ask themselves whether or not they can follow Jack Layton’s vision of the NDP.'”
Bush said Wilks didn’t deserve to win the election and criticized him for missing the majority of all-candidates debates in the riding.
“What about all those people in the communities where he didn’t show up?” said Bush. “He wants to be their representative? That’s highly undemocratic.”