Wednesday, January 05, 2011

NDP's Catherine Bell won't challenge John Duncan in Vancouver Island North

The NDP's Catherine Bell has been battling at the ballot box in Vancouver Island North with Conservative John Duncan for years. She narrowly lost to the incumbent Duncan in 2004, and narrowly unseated him in 2006 to serve a term as MP before she lost to Duncan, now Minister of Indian Affairs and Northern Development, in 2008.

Vancouver Island North has long been a target NDP riding, and a frequent stop for Jack Layton. Bell had been expected to try to take the seat back from Duncan in the next election, but news broke yesterday that Bell will not be the NDP candidate:

"I bought a small business last year and it's taking pretty much 999 per cent of my time," Bell told the Courier-Islander Tuesday. "It's a real lot of work and I just don't have the time to spend to be a proper candidate and I don't want to leave the party hanging. I want them to find someone who can commit the time that it needs to do a good job.

"This is another chapter in my life. It's the first business that I've ever owned and I want to make it work and be successful. I find that I'm really enjoying it and I just don't have the time to dedicate to being a full-time candidate, giving it what it needs."
I think many thought the coffee shop (the Zocalo Cafe & Gallery at Fifth and Cliffe in Courtenay) was the perfect launching pad for Bell to take another shot at Duncan (here's your muffin, and a brochure!) but it appears the business will be keeping her too busy for campaigning. I wish Catherine luck, I'll stop by for a hot chocolate next time I'm back.

In the interim, it will be interesting to see who the NDP nominates to run in Bell's place, but between her departure and his elevation to cabinet in the shuffle before last, I'm sure Duncan is breathing a little easier today.

I would note, though, that for progressive voters who supported Catherine Bell and are looking for a new champion in Vancouver Island North, the Liberals have already nominated a great candidate in Mike Holland.

A former Courtenay city councilor, he's best known for leading the fight against the BC NDP government when it tried to seize the assets of charities such as Glacier View Lodge (a complex care facility), and later against the BC Liberal government when it reneged on its promise to build long-term care beds for the province's seniors.

Learn more about Mike on his campaign web site,, and his Facebook group.

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