The Kamloops-Thompson-Cariboo NDP riding association is again looking for a flag bearer after the second candidate stepped down on Wednesday, Sept. 11, the day the election campaign officially began.
Riding president Bill Sundhu said Dock Currie, a second-year law student at TRU, was asked by the federal party to step down as candidate due to controversial social media posts from a few years ago.
Currie was announced as the party’s candidate only last week and was filling the void left by Gina Myhill-Jones, the 100 Mile House resident who was acclaimed as NDP candidate this past spring, but who quit in August, citing personal reasons.
Glen Sanford, BC director of the NDPs federal campaign, described Currie’s comments as not suitable for a candidate in this election.
The comments in question were directed towards “two pro-pipeline activists” two years ago, Currie wrote in a statement. He went on to write that his remarks were “flippant and aggressive” and he understands “how they would be a needless distraction to the party and national campaign.”
While he said he regrets and apologizes for the comments, Currie said he disagrees “with both the content and process” that went into the party’s decision asking him to step down.
Asked why an apology and/or retraction from Currie did not suffice, Sanford would only say the comments were “problematic.”
“There was some content there that was problematic and that’s the decision that we came to,” Sanford told KTW, adding he will not go in to details regarding the content of the comments.
He said Currie met with the NDP’s federal director, Melissa Bruno, who spoke with Currie on Monday and asked him to resign.
Sanford said the local riding association did not ask Currie to step down.
Currie was acclaimed as the NDP’s candidate on Sept. 4.
Sanford said the comments came to light after the vetting process had occurred. He said he does not know how they were brought to the party’s attention, but noted the comments were made “on private channels we weren’t aware of.”
Sanford said the NDP still plans to run a candidate in the Kamloops-Thompson-Cariboo and believes it will be someone who is a local.
Candidates have until Oct. 1 to file nomination papers to run in the federal election, according to Elections Canada. Voters go to the polls on Oct. 21.
Running for MP in Kamloops-Thompson-Cariboo are Kira Cheeseborough (Animal Protection Party), Iain Currie (Green) Ken Finlayson (People’s Party), Peter Kerek (Communist), Terry Lake (Liberal) and Cathy McLeod (Conservative).
DOCK CURRIE’S LETTER
Currie wrote a letter to NDP supporters, explaining his decision to heed the federal party’s request that he step down as candidate:
Statement by Dock Currie, September 11, 2019.
Brothers and sisters in the fight for the interests of working class Canadian families, First Nations peoples, LGBTQ2S peoples, and marginalized peoples, it is with a heavy heart that I write to you to inform you that I have been asked to, and have agreed to, withdraw my candidacy for NDP MP for Kamloops-Thompson-Cariboo.
I am incredibly disappointed that I won't be able to be the voice to offer a social democratic alternative to the Liberals and Conservatives in the riding of Kamloops-Thompson-Cariboo. I am not stepping down for personal reasons. Rather, I have been asked to step down as a result of problematic social media engagement two years ago, made in a context in which I was a graduate student without any designs on public life. The comments I made then were flippant and aggressive, and do not reflect who I am today, nor do I stand by them in the form in which they were made, and I understand completely that they would be an unnecessary and unwarranted distraction from the vital message and campaign of the NDP across the country.
I absolutely support, endorse, and believe in the NDP's New Deal for People and Power to Change policy documents. We live in a moment of crisis, and the only party with policy prescriptions that both resonate with everyday Canadians and can address the massive disparities and contradictions in wealth, housing, healthcare and reconciliation is Canada's New Democratic Party. I am truly and deeply sorry to my friends, neighbours, colleagues, fellow party members, and citizens across Canada that I cannot and will not be the champion for these policies, as much as I wanted to and want to be.
I want also to make clear that while I regret and apologize for the comments I made to two pro-pipeline activists two years ago, and understand how they would be a needless distraction to the party and national campaign, I nonetheless disagree with both the content and process of the decision that prevents me from championing these policies that I deeply and passionately believe in. The run-up to this campaign has been marked by questions around the nature, purpose, and procedures of candidate vetting, in all parties, and how social media plays a role in who can, and cannot, take part in political life. If all those who advance the interests of the wealthy and powerful need to do to stymie and sabotage a campaign or candidate is to unearth an uncouth statement, or make a political party answer for any out of context social media engagement, then that is exactly what they will do, and become better at doing.
With that said, as the Ontario Labour activist Sid Ryan has already noted, the issue of candidate vetting, what it consists of, and who makes decisions concerning it "will need to be addressed in a serious way following the election [but] meanwhile, we have work to do to elect Jagmeet Singh and his team of candidates." With this I wholeheartedly agree. There will be plenty of time for analysis and questions after the election campaign has ended, as we survey the political scene that we will have to live with for several years.
Right now, I encourage all Canadians across the country to get involved with the campaigns of all the great local candidates for the NDP, inspiring individuals who passionately advocate for policies that will materially better the lives of the communities we live in, and get them into Parliament. I am incredibly sorry that I will not be among them.
I am humbled, grateful, and inspired by the local Kamloops-Thompson-Cariboo labour activists, campaign volunteers, and electoral district association members who put their trust in me, and it will forever sit uncomfortably with me that I could not be their candidate.
In love and solidarity always,