By Ezra Black
A local New Democrat has ambitions to end 16 years of Liberal rule in Kootenay East.
On Nov. 19, Randal Macnair, the former mayor of Fernie, was selected to be the B.C. NDP’s candidate for the riding in the May 2017 provincial election.
Macnair was first elected to municipal council in 1999 and served as mayor and on the Regional District of East Kootenay Board for six years.
“One of the first things we did when I got elected was put all the meetings on television,” he said. “We increased access to meetings and had more open meetings because very little of the work that government’s do should be done behind closed doors.”
Macnair promised to bring the same transparency to provincial politics if he is elected as MLA for Kootenay East and had sharp words for Christy Clark’s B.C. Liberals.
“When they got into office, they promised that they’d have open cabinet meetings. That didn’t last long,” said Macnair. “The legislature in B.C. has barely sat for the last three and a half years and they just cancelled the entire fall sitting. If you’re not allowing debate and dialogue you’re governing by cabinet decree and you’re having your meetings in private.”
“That to me really speaks to a government that is not transparent and does not want to let people see what’s going on,” he added. “And that’s how Christy Clark operates.”
Local New Democrats cast ballots at the Anglican Church in Cranbrook and selected Macnair over Cranbrook Councillor Norma Blissett.
Blissett pledged to support Macnair in his bid as did B.C. NDP Leader John Horgan.
“Macnair understands Kootenay East through his 15 years as a councillor and mayor. He will be in your corner, unlike Christy Clark, who only seems to look out for people at the top,” said Horgan in a statement.
Born in Victoria, B.C., the Fernie resident has been a museum curator, worked in forestry, fishing, construction and now owns Fernie’s Oolichan Books, which publishes Canadian literary fiction and poetry.
Macnair said his new democratic roots run deep: Both his parents were politically active, his grandmother was a long time party member and he is distantly related to Bob Strachan, the first leader of the B.C. NDP.