Indigenous leader wants BC NDP to honour equity policy, nominate her instead of Nathan Cullen
Annita McPhee announced in a news release Saturday that she had "submitted all official requirements in the BC NDP nomination package" to seek the party's backing to replace retiring MLA and Forests Minister Doug Donaldson. (Facebook/Annita McPhee)
VANCOUVER -- A three-term president of the Tahltan Central Government is seeking the BC NDP nomination for the northern riding of Stikine, and says the party's equity mandate means she should get the nomination over former MP Nathan Cullen.
Annita McPhee announced in a news release Saturday that she had "submitted all official requirements in the BC NDP nomination package" to seek the party's backing to replace retiring MLA and Forests Minister Doug Donaldson.
McPhee says Donaldson's decision not to seek re-election triggers the BC NDP Equity Mandate.
"Under the BC NDP Equity Mandate, when MLAs who self-identify as male retire, the party requires that the next nominee be a member of an equity-seeking group, such as an Indigenous person or a woman," reads McPhee's news release.
Cullen, who has also announced his intention to seek the party's nomination for the Stikine riding, does not appear to be a member of an equity-seeking group.
CTV News Vancouver has reached out to the BC NDP for more information about its policy and the nomination process. This story will be updated if and when a response is received.
Reached by phone Sunday evening, McPhee told CTV News Vancouver she was surprised that the party didn't reach out to her when she first expressed interest in running on social media shortly after Donaldson announced he was stepping down.
She said she sees the minister's departure as an opportunity to bring Indigenous representation to a riding where one-third of voters are Indigenous, as well as to bring diversity to the NDP caucus, which is what the policy is intended to do.
"I put it out there saying, you know, I intend to run," McPhee said. "And by Friday I heard that Nathan Cullen was running."
She added that she sees Cullen as a "really excellent leader" who she has worked with productively in the past.
"He's done a lot of great work for all the years that he's been in there, but this is about the NDP's policy," she said. "It's about following their own policy and doing what is right."
"They put their policy in for a reason," she added. "Diversity matters. With the equity policy, they were able to gain really strong leaders in the past … I believe I have a lot to offer, if given the opportunity."
Asked whether she would consider running in a different riding if the party asked her to, knowing that such a request would mean the party was not honouring its equity mandate, McPhee said it was a difficult question that she couldn't answer.
"I believe in the NDP party," she said. "I've always believed in them. They're a strong party in my riding. They have always been the party to represent our riding in the Stikine."
The possible nomination battle comes amid rampant speculation that B.C. Premier John Horgan will call for a fall election, one year before the province's next fixed election date in October 2021.
Horgan and the NDP formed a minority government with the support of the BC Green Party in 2017. Some of the speculation about a fall election call comes as a result of the NDP's strong standing in recent polls, but political observers have been quick to highlight the risk of calling an early election as well.
In her release on seeking the nomination, McPhee praised the work the NDP has done since forming government and said it would be a "great honour" to run for the party in Stikine.
McPhee also touted the large Indigenous population in the riding, which includes the homelands of the Tahltan people. Her news release listed several Indigenous leaders in the region who support her candidacy, including Chief Glen Williams from Gitanyow; Chief Chastity Daniels from Gitwangak; Chief Marie Quock from Iskut; Chief Rick McLean from Tahltan, and Hereditary Chief Yobx from Gitsegukla.