In his first interview with The Free Press just after the election was called, NDP Candidate Wayne Stetski urged voters to vote strategically on Oct. 19 and it appears that voters in the Kootenay-Columbia riding took his advice seriously. Candidates and voters waited with bated breath as the results came in on Monday night as the winner flip-flopped back and forth between Conservative candidate David Wilks and Stetski. In the end Stetski overtook Wilks by a narrow margin of 285 votes to become the elected Member of Parliament for the Kootenay-Columbia region.
Stetski is the former mayor of Cranbrook and Kootenay Regional Manager for the B.C. Ministry of Environment. Given his previous roles, Stetski has travelled the district thoroughly from tip-to-tip, and knows the ins-and-outs of the communities within.
Stetski’s professional life has focused on environmental leadership through a number of positions, including manager of the East Kootenay Conservation Program, following his retirement from the B.C. government.
Since he started campaigning for the Oct. 19 federal election, Stetski said there’s been a common theme among eligible voters – Stephen Harper must go - and although it is not the NDP forming a majority government in Ottawa it is an NDP victory in this riding.
The NDP platform focused on bringing in quality, affordable childcare, strengthening the public health care system, ensuring a cleaner environment and kick-starting the economy.
In terms of families, Stetski said, in a previous interview with The Free Press that he’s been talking to people about the NDP’s proposal of a $15 per day national childcare program, as well as cutting federal small business tax from 11 to nine per cent.
“That’s important for small businesses and that’s really where we need to grow the economy in Canada,” he said. “Those are the jobs that are right in the communities.”
Another issue Stetski and the NDP support is expanding Canada’s green energy sector, saying those jobs are also right in the community.
“For me the politics ended yesterday,” said Stetski in an interview the day after the election. “My job is to represent all of the constituents of Kootenay-Columbia in Ottawa and that’s certainly what I intend to do. I said all the way through that I will be a strong voice for the values and the concerns that we have here and I am going to provide excellent public service here in Kootenay-Columbia.
“When you are in opposition, it is all about making sure that your constituents and their concerns are answered and represented while making connections between the constituents and the people in Ottawa and providing them with the best help and assistance.
“I do want to emphasize that 63 per cent of voters in the Kootenay-Columbia voted for change so I am very happy to be part of that change.”
Stetski said that change really was the message he heard going door-to-door, during the campaign. He specifically heard two things very consistently, the first one being people had an interest in seeing that Mr. Harper was no longer our Prime Minister and the second was people were interested in seeing change here in Kootenay-Columbia.
“We did accomplish both of those objectives,” said Stetski. “I’m glad Canadians as a whole decided it was time for a change.”