Rafferty takes first step towards NDP nomination

Members of the local federal NDP riding association on Tuesday night nominated John Rafferty to be their candidate in the next election, but he won’t be confirmed until Thursday night in Thunder Bay when the last of the three nomination meetings is held.
“I’m very pleased that you’ve chosen me,” Rafferty told the crowd here.
About 20 people attended Tuesday night’s meeting at the Ukrainian Hall and cast their ballots.
Rafferty was the only person to announce his plans to seek the nomination prior to the meeting, but the NDP constitution allows for nominations from the floor at the meeting.
Local NDP volunteer Richard McKinnon stood up to nominate Rafferty and no other nominations were made. But others could be made at the meetings scheduled for Wednesday night in Atikokan and Thursday in Thunder Bay.
Rafferty, who ran as the NDP candidate in the newly-formed Thunder Bay-Rainy River riding last June, promised to work hard for local constituents if elected.
“I will try to work as hard as Howard Hampton does,” he pledged. “He’s been my mentor. I’ll follow in his footsteps and follow his work ethic.”
He also praised the NDP caucus in Ottawa, and party leader Jack Layton, for their work in the Liberal minority government of Prime Minister Paul Martin.
“It would have been just as easy for Jack Layton to trigger an election in the House of Commons [on May 19], but he didn’t because he wanted to see an NDP budget passed,” Rafferty said.
While he expects an election call to come this fall, Rafferty said the main issue to residents of Northwestern Ontario won’t be the Liberals’ sponsorship scandal nor the Conservatives’ hidden agenda.
“That’s not the issues I’m hearing,” he said. “What people are talking about is the north being forgotten, the north being taken for granted, and being invisible.
“Apart from Howard Hampton, we haven’t had good representation for 20 years,” he charged.
Rafferty said Thunder Bay-Rainy River MP Ken Boshcoff could do much more to represent the interests of Northern Ontario in Ottawa.
“I expect Ken Boshcoff to stand up in the House of Commons, if he can, if he’s not too afraid, to stand up and say the people of Northern Ontario matter,” he remarked.
Representatives across Northern Ontario in the recent past have been low-profile politicians who “sit so far back on the backbenches that you need a GPS to find them,” Rafferty charged.
“They are afraid to say anything to their political masters.”
Rafferty works as a communications and outreach assistant with the local provincial NDP, and frequently knocks on doors in Rainy River District to talk to people about their concerns.
“People in Northern Ontario need to get their confidence back again,” he said. “People are discouraged, people are angry, people have a sense that things aren’t getting better.
“They can get better, but you have to make a decision.
“I think all of Northern Ontario is in the same boat,” he added. “We should all be working together.
“I can promise you this. After I’m elected, people will know where Northern Ontario is,” he vowed.
Boshcoff was nominated as the Liberal candidate at a meeting in Thunder Bay on May 14 while the local Green Party riding association nominated Russ Aegard, who ran for the party in last June’s election.
Aegard was nominated April 26 following a mail-in vote by party members. Mike Kemper of Miscampbell also sought the nomination.
Aegard said his party spent less than $500 on its campaign in Thunder Bay-Rainy River. While they hope to raise more money for the next one, he said a Green Party campaign is not money-driven.
“Our campaign style is grassroots, focusing on meeting people, not on spending money,” he remarked.
The local Conservative riding association was slated to hold a nomination meeting May 25 in Thunder Bay but decided to reschedule after the government survived the confidence vote on May 19.
“It’s been indefinitely postponed,” said Conservative riding association president Rick Harmer.