Nathan Cullen is projected to win the riding of Stikine in the 2020 provincial election, Global News projects.
Cullen’s return to politics has not gone as planned. The four-term MP had all the makings of an NDP star candidate but was followed by controversy throughout the campaign.
The first struggle was when NDP incumbent Doug Donaldson, who served as forestry minister in John Horgan’s government, announced he was not running again. Within hours of the announcement Indigenous advocate and former Tahltan Central Government president Annita McPhee announced her plan to run.
The problem for the NDP was the equity mandate. If McPhee had met all of the requirements to seek the nomination she would block Cullen from being able to stand for the party. In the end McPhee was disqualified for not having an active party membership and not gathering enough eligible signatures.
Critics have accused the party of violating its equity mandate, which requires it to nominate a candidate from an equity-seeking group, such as women or people of colour, when a white, male MLA over the age of 40 does not run again.
Then in the final days of the campaign Cullen was caught on an open microphone commenting on BC Liberal candidate Roy Jones Jr.
“He’s not well liked — he’s Haida — in his own community,” Cullen said.
“The guy’s going to get bedrock 20 per cent. Like, his name is Kinkles,” he added, referring to Jones Jr.’s nickname.
NDP Leader John Horgan called the comments “stupid” and said he was disappointed in Cullen. Cullen has apologized multiple times and received letters of support from various First Nation in the region, including the Haida, wanting him to stay in the race and accepting his apology.
The BC NDP has won the Stikine riding in the last three elections, but the BC Liberals do have recent history here.
There is no doubting Cullen will still bring a lot of name power to Stikine. The Smithers resident is one of the most recognized politicians in the province.
“Provincial politics are much more intimate. The issues you have to deal with as a provincial politician are around schools, direct services, people’s hospitals and a lot to do with our environment,” Cullen said.
The BC Liberals nominated Gordon Sebastian, a lawyer, hereditary chief, and executive director of the Gitxsan Nation.
Sebastian said he was running to focus on jobs, quality healthcare, social support and access to education for the people of Stikine.
“We need to jumpstart the economy and if elected I want to focus on delivering economic recovery for our resource industries that meets the indigenous agenda with a priority placed on projecting our environment,” Sebastian said.
“I will fight to deliver best environmental practices, restore our industries, open up new opportunities for business, and return badly-needed jobs – jobs that will make a difference for working men, women, and families.”
- BC NDP: Nathan Cullen
- BC Liberals: Gordon Sebastian
- Rural BC Party: Darcy Repan
- Christian Heritage Party of B.C.: Rod Taylor
Swing riding meter
The Stikine riding has gone to the BC NDP in 14 of the last 17 elections.
In 2017, Donaldson won by 13.34 per cent. It was the 31st closest race out of 87 ridings, based on margin of victory. It was the 16th closest race of the 41 seats won by the BC NDP.
2017 Election Results
- BC NDP: Doug Donaldson — 4,748 votes (52.10%)
- BC Liberals: Wanda Good — 3,531 votes (38.75%)
- Christian Heritage: Rod Taylor — 834 votes (9.15%)
This profile will continually be updated to reflect latest information, interviews and events in the campaign.
Find full B.C. 2020 election coverage here.
Due to the COVID-19 pandemic, an unprecedented number of mail-in ballots were requested across B.C. this election. As mail-in ballots cannot be counted until after election night, these results are not final.