Voters in communities such as Gitlaxt’aamiks in the Nass Valley have been strong supporters of NDPer Nathan Cullen.

Native vote benefits northwestern B.C. NDP incumbent

Nathan Cullen seeking fifth term as Member of Parliament

NEW DEMOCRATIC incumbent Nathan Cullen should continue to profit by strong support within the aboriginal voting community in this federal election, says a University of British Columbia political analyst.

Cullen, seeking re-election for the fourth straight time, has been the overwhelming favourite among aboriginal voters since he was first elected in the 2004 federal election for the Skeena – Bulkley Valley riding.

“The NDP continue to have policies that are more sympathetic to First Nations interests in general,” says Michael Murphy, who has studied aboriginal turnout from a historical perspective.

In 2011, Cullen’s support within the aboriginal community could be seen in places such as in the Nass Valley where he received 253 votes to 14 for Conservative challenger Clay Harmon, in Moricetown near Smithers where he received 181 votes compared to Harmon’s 11 and at Kitsumkalum where Cullen out-polled Harmon by 146 to 28 votes.

The NDP’s vocal stance opposing the construction of oil-carrying pipelines and oil-carrying tankers has been popular among fisheries-based and other communities, said Murphy.

Cullen has become one of the key figures in regional opposition to Enbridge’s planned Northern Gateway pipeline which would pump Alberta crude to a marine export terminal at Kitimat.

And he’s proposed a private member’s bill in the House of Commons to ban oil tankers from the north coast.

Cullen’s also been strong in larger communities where aboriginals make up a large portion of the population.

He’s also increased his share of the vote each time out, from 37 per cent in 2004, his first victory, to his fourth in 2011 when he received 55 per cent of the vote.

As a sign of aboriginal support for Cullen, one of his opponents in his first victory in 2004 was Haida leader Miles Richardson who ran for the Liberal party.

Cullen’s 37 per cent of the vote in 2004, however, was significantly higher than Richardson’s 21.5 per cent.

The Liberal vote has declined each election since (falling as low as 3.61 per cent in 2011) with Cullen being the beneficiary.

Meanwhile, the Conservative vote has remained locked in the 33 per cent range in every election since 2004.

Aboriginal voting did increase slightly with the on-reserve turn out rising by 2.1 per cent between 2008 and 2011 in this riding from 47.6 per cent to 49.7 per cent averaged out over 81 on-reserve polls.

According to Murphy, neither the current federal Conservative government or previous federal Liberal ones have done particularly well in gathering the aboriginal vote.

The string of Liberal governments from 1993-2006 started off with strong aboriginal support but then exited on a bad note, said Murphy.

“At the end of the [Jean] Chretien era, indigenous people across Canada were kind of getting fed up, they were like well, we started off pretty good but a lot of the policies coming down at the end of the Chretien era didn’t look great,” said Murphy.

He cited proposal Liberal aboriginal government legislation which First Nations leaders said resembled the Indian Act.

As for the current Conservative government, Murphy says its policies have not pleased the aboriginal electorate either.

“The Tories have done a number of things that have been incredibly unpopular. The removal of the environmental protections which really got the Idle No More movement up and running being one,” he said.

And while the NDP has never been elected to govern Canada, positions taken have solidified the party image as friendly to the cause of aboriginals.

That said, Murphy also believes the policies and promises of the NDP, for instance calling for an inquiry into missing and murdered aboriginal people, is more based on principles and less on strategy, because of the small overall percentage of the vote that First Nations wield across the country.

Historically, aboriginal people were denied the right to vote until mid-century, he added, and many choose not to vote to this today.

 

 

 

 

 

Just Posted

Nathan Cullen named Parliamentarian of the Year

Skeena-Bulkley Valley MP won the top-title Nov. 5

Terrace council gets to work with three appointments

Representatives were chosen during their first meeting Nov. 13

Tahltan First Nation to finally return home after wildfire

Roughly $12 million has been spent making the community livable again after the 1,180-square-kilometre blaze destroyed 21 homes

Donation bin closed after vandalism, theft

Four people arrested in September

Shames Mountain keeps bunny hill free

Co-op wants to make the sport more accessible for beginners

Winter weather hits parts of Canada

As some parts of the country brace for cold, parts of B.C. remain warmer than 10 C

Canada’s health system commendable overall but barriers to care remain: UN

The United Nations says Canada’s health care system is “commendable” overall but vulnerable groups still face barriers to quality care.

Unique technology gives children with special needs more independent play

UVic’s CanAssist refined seven prototypes aided by $1.5M government contribution

Kelly Ellard’s boyfriend has statutory release revoked

Darwin Duane Dorozan had several parole infractions that found him ‘unmanageable’

Doctor’s note shouldn’t be required to prove you’re sick: poll

70% of Canadians oppose allowing employers to make you get a sick note

German-born B.C. man warns against a ‘yes’ vote on proportional representation

Agassiz realtor Freddy Marks says PR in his home country shows party elites can never be voted out

Fashion Fridays: 5 coats you need this winter!

Kim XO, lets you know the best online shopping tips during Fashion Fridays on the Black Press Media Network

Saskatchewan college honours memory of Humboldt Broncos coach

Darcy Haugan wore jersey No. 22 when he was a star player with the Briercrest College Clippers

Liberals to act quickly if Saturday midnight deal deadline breached: source

Oh Friday, Canadian Union of Postal Workers said it would not bring the latest offers to a vote of its members

Most Read