Cullen named opposition finance critic

He had been the house leader for the NDP in Parliament

Skeena – Bulkley Valley NDP MP Nathan Cullen is taking on a new challenge, moving from his job as house leader of the official opposition in Ottawa to finance critic in a series of shifts made by official opposition leader Tom Mulcair today.

“I’m thrilled that someone from a northern and rural riding is going to be a big part of the financial conversation at the national level … I’m looking forward to the challenge. I think this discussion is going to be a huge part of the NDP forming government in a year-and-a-half,” he said, noting the new position is a lot more high profile than his current one.

Cullen takes over the position from Toronto MP Peggy Nash and will be criticizing the work of newly-appointed finance minister Joe Oliver, who has taken over the role after Jim Flaherty resigned this week following eight years in the position.

Cullen said he is looking forward to holding Oliver to account and will be bringing his own background into the debate.“He comes from Bay Street as a former executive at Merrill Lynch … I get my roots from Main Street and the small business sector, which I think is really the backbone of the economy,” he said, adding he will continue to work for the people of the riding.

“[Finance] is a big conversation … at the end of the day, one of my top priorities is making sure the Northwest gets noticed. My goal is to make sure the voice of this region is heard.”

Replacing Cullen is another BC MP, Peter Julian. He represents the riding of Burnaby New Westminster.

The shift comes with another change for Cullen – he’ll be losing the $39,800 yearly salary that came with being the house leader for the official opposition.

As a Member of Parliament, Cullen makes $160,200, an amount that is scheduled to rise April 1.

(With files from Shaun Thomas of The Northern View in Prince Rupert.)