What’s in a name, anyway?

At least he tried. He failed wonderfully, but he tried and came out on top.

“It’s official—after widespread consultations, emails, chats in the airport, talks with First Nations leaders and more I will propose to Parliament a name change for our federal riding,” still-Skeena-Bulkley Valley MP Nathan Cullen said on Facebook early November.

For many years constituents have approached the MP with spite that one of Canada’s largest ridings (330,000-square kilometres) left out more than 70 per cent of people and regions with its restrictive name. So with an invitation from Parliament for name changes and a fast approaching deadline, Cullen launched forth with proposal and a poll, to which 69 per cent of the 240 Facebook respondents voted in favour of change.

Whoa, not so fast!

Change yes, but British Columbia Northwest, definitely not.

“Hi folks!” Cullen then posted. “Some felt they hadn’t been properly consulted when I announced I’d be proposing to change the name of our riding…so we’re going to give this another go.”

Perhaps too bland, too on-the-nose, British Columbia Northwest had been “tweaked” with input from constituents and swapped out for the regal-sounding Skeena-Pacific Northwest. Constituents had five days to respond, and 64 per cent of the 662 that did, approved.

But hang on a minute!

“Frankly, I hit ‘send’ too quickly and missed the mark on properly inviting constituents in this decision,” Cullen said in a Dec. 6 press release.

He suggested we revisit the issue in a couple years after the 2019 federal election (story on Page 7).

Well, that was fun!

Cullen has faced some minor criticism for the proposal, mostly over the inevitable tax dollars to be spent on something as banal as a name change: a bird by any given name is still the same bird.

But Cullen is right to pursue the change. There’s a lot in a name, if only for the respect and the acknowledgement those representing that name receive in return. With humour and candour Cullen revised his attack strategy based the quick, direct feedback from constituents. As quickly as he started the campaign he then ceded without quibble or regret. It was an excellent exercise in public engagement.

We know the majority want change, and we personally look forward to Cullen’s next Facebook post on the matter come 2019.

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