Northwestern B.C. federal Conservatives choose fall election candidate this weekend

Two Kitimat residents in the running

Federal Conservatives are voting this weekend to choose their candidate in the Skeena — Bulkley Valley riding for this fall’s election.

And for the first time in the riding’s history, the successful candidate will be from Kitimat as both contenders for the nomination come from that community.

Jody Craven is a recent Rio Tinto retiree, having lived in Kitimat since 1980.

He’s a graduate of Mount Elizabeth Senior Secondary and lists an extensive background in youth sports in Kitimat and involvement with foster parents’ organizations among his involvement.

In seeking the nomination, Craven says much more needs to be done for the country’s senior population.

“Don’t get me wrong. I have no problem in helping other countries, but we need to focus on our seniors — housing, health care. They’re the ones who built this country,” says Craven.

READ MORE: BC Conservatives begin leadership race

The second candidate, Claire Rattée, co-owner of the DivineInk piercing and tattoo parlour in Kitimat, brings with her political experience from having served on the District of Kitimat council from 2014 to 2018.

When elected in 2014 at the age of 22, she was the youngest person ever to be chosen to sit on the District of Kitimat council.

Rattée moved to Kitimat from the lower mainland just over seven years ago and says she quickly realized the value of living in a smaller community.

“More can be done to foster an environment where small businesses and entrepreneurs can thrive in our communities,” Rattée states on her campaign website, adding she recognizes that industry and large-scale projects are crucial to the region.

Members in good standing of the Conservative Party of Canada will vote in person in either of four locations — Prince Rupert on the morning of Feb. 16, followed by Terrace in the afternoon, Kitimat in the early evening and finishing up in Smithers on the afternoon of Feb. 17.

Candidates and election officials will be at each location.

The Skeena – Bulkley Valley riding is one of the largest in the country, stretching from Haida Gwaii and the north coast, eastward to Fort St. James and northward to the Yukon border, while excluding Vanderhoof.

The riding is now held by New Democrat Nathan Cullen, first elected in 2004 and re-elected four times since. He’s established himself as a popular Member of the Parliament not only within the riding but nationally, placing third at one point in a bid for his party’s leadership.

Speaking last month, Cullen said he as yet to decide if he’ll be running again, adding the decision will be made after discussions with his family.

READ MORE: MP Cullen undecided about running again

The federal election takes place Oct. 21.

While Craven and Rattée were successful in being accepted as candidates for the Conservative Party of Canada nomination, three people were not.

Distance school educator Gerald Caron of Vanderhoof, and co-owner of a Terrace trucking company MaryAnn Freeman, both of whom have held riding-level executive positions in the past, were denied, as was Manon Joice, a coordinator with the University of British Columbia’s Northern Medical Program.

Both Caron and Joice had established a social media presence to mount their campaigns.

Caron and Freeman said they were not told why they were not accepted. An email query sent to Joice was not answered.

Explanations from the Conservative Party of Canada as to why the three were not successful in having their applications for the nomination contest accepted were not immediately available.

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