Rachel Blaney

Blaney to carry NDP banner into federal election

Blaney was elected Saturday as more than 500 party members and supporters cast their vote

Campbell River’s Rachel Blaney is the new federal NDP candidate for the North Island-Powell River riding.

Blaney was elected Saturday as more than 500 party members and supporters cast their vote at the Community Centre to choose a candidate to run in the next federal election, expected to be held sometime in October 2015.

Blaney prevailed over challenger Dave Coles, a retired union leader who served as national president of the Communications, Energy and Paperworkers Union.

Blaney, the executive director of the Multicultural and Immigrant Services Association of North Vancouver Island (MISA) which provides services to new Canadians, thanked all of those who put their trust in her.

“I’m thrilled, honoured and humbled to have been selected as the candidate for the next election,” Blaney said. “I’m so grateful to all my supporters and excited to join (NDP leader) Tom Mulcair and the NDP team, working to support responsible resource development, and healthy and sustainable communities.”

If elected, Blaney will be responsible for representing the North Island’s interests in Ottawa on Parliament Hill.

Blaney said she will advocate for strategic and responsible development of the region’s natural resources and for “improved protection of our forests, water, and air in conjunction with the development of a strong diversified industry that can not only provide good jobs but also support the social services that are needed in the Island and coastal communities.”

Blaney said she is committed to winning what will be a new North Island-Powell River riding. With changes to election boundaries announced last year, the North Island will be lumped in with Comox and Powell River, and Courtenay and Cumberland will join a new riding.

Conservative MP John Duncan currently holds the North Island riding but will give up that seat to run in the newly formed Courtenay-Alberni riding.

Blaney will be up against Peter Schwarzhoff for the federal Liberals and Duncan’s senior advisor Laura Smith who has put her name forward for the Conservative nomination.

Blaney has experience working with all levels of government through her work with MISA and is an active member of local committees on food security, community development, social planning and health.

Blaney holds a degree in First Nations and Women’s studies. She has lived in the Campbell River area for 16 years and is married to Darren Blaney of the Homalco First Nation and has three children and two grandchildren.

NDP leader Mulcair said he is pleased to have Blaney join the team.

“Rachel is tenacious and hard working,” Mulcair said in a news release. “She is known for building relationships, collaborating and leading community development. Rachel fought hard for this nomination and I’m so happy to have her strength, commitment and dedication on our team.”

Under Canada’s fixed election legislation, the next federal election is slated for Oct. 19, 2015, however, the ruling Conservatives could elect to hold the election earlier in the year.