For local NDP supporters, the task of unseating Conservative MP David Wilks is a big hill to climb.
“There’s no doubt it’s a challenge,” said Bill Macfarlane, a local NDP organizer. “I think we have a really good candidate. I think his experience as the mayor of Cranbrook gives him relevant experience.”
That candidate – Wayne Stetski – was in Revelstoke last week for a meet-and-greet at Macfarlane’s home. The meeting mostly served as a chance for local supporters to meet their candidate and discuss ways to get him elected.
In the 2011 election, Wilks won easily with 56 per cent of the vote — almost 10,000 more than runner up Mark Shmigelsky of the NDP. The riding’s boundaries have changed since then to include Nelson, Salmo and Kaslo, and exclude the Nakusp area, but even then, the gap is almost 6,000 votes according to a poll-by-poll calculation by the Review.
Stetski said he’ll be reaching out to Liberal and Green Party supporters — so-called progressive voters – to convince that this time, they should vote NDP.
“Really the NDP is the only party in this riding that has the chance to take the place of the Conservative government,” he said.
For Green Party supporters, he’ll be touting his credentials from almost 30 years working for BC Parks and the Ministry of the Environment.
To Liberal Party voters, he mentioned his personal relationship with Justin Trudeau, the party’s leader. Stetski helped Trudeau establish a cabin in Kokanee Glacier Provincial Park in honour Justin’s brother Michel, who died there in an avalanche in 1998.
“If you look at the platforms of the NDP and the Liberals and the Greens, all of us who are progressives have a lot of similarities if you take the time to look for them in terms of what we want to accomplish,” Stetski said.
To Conservative Party supporters, he said he would bring democracy back to the riding, saying Prime Minister Stephen Harper exerts too strong a control over his MPs. Stetski also cited Bill C-51, which he said has the potential “to erode our freedoms around privacy, for example, and our opportunity to speak against things we don’t the government is doing right.
“When you add all that together, I think there’s an interest in seeing change in Ottawa,” he added.