Mark Shmigelsky speaks at the NDP nomination convention for the federal riding of Kootenay–Columbia

Mark Shmigelsky speaks at the NDP nomination convention for the federal riding of Kootenay–Columbia

Mark Shmigelsky chosen as NDP Kootenay–Columbia candidate

The NDP Kootenay–Columbia riding association has chosen former Invermere mayor Mark Shmigelsky to represent them in the next federal election.

The decision came at a Jan. 15 nomination convention in Cranbrook.

Shmigelsky won the nomination in the first round of voting with 50 per cent of the vote. The other nominees were Chris Nagy and Rhonda Barter.

Current Kootenay–Columbia MP Jim Abbott (Conservative) announced in early 2010 that he will not be running in the next federal election.

“Winning back this riding will be a huge task,” Shmigelsky said in a speech at the convention. “But it is one that excites me. And if we are to regain a voice in this riding, we must have a candidate that can draw votes from across the political spectrum.”

Shmigelsky’s campaign focused on outspoken criticism of long-time MP Jim Abbott, whom Shmigelsky portrayed as a politician who had strayed from his Reform roots and was no longer representing his constituents’ interests in Ottawa.

Shmigelsky continued on the theme in his convention speech: “Our current MP, Jim Abbott, lost his voice the moment Stephen Harper became his leader. The Prime Ministerʼs Office has total control from shutting down parliament to avoid the issues to controlling every word that an MP says,” he said. “In this riding, we have lost our voice in Ottawa and I am determined to get it back. I am determined to bring back a sense of real democracy and to make it possible for citizens of this riding to actually participate in it.”

The other main theme of Shmigelsky’s campaign was his career in municipal and regional politics. He was Mayor of Invermere for nine years, and also served as councillor for six years. He also served on the Regional District of East Kootenay, the East Kootenay Regional Hospital District and the Invermere Housing Corporation.

Shmigelsky, 40, is married with two children. He has been a resident of Invermere since 1987 when he came to play minor hockey. He worked as a lumber grader for Canfor in Radium for over two decades and now works for Tembec in Canal Flats.