Five candidates are running for the federal seat of Kamloops-Thompson-Cariboo in a bid to replace outgoing MP Cathy McLeod.
Four days after declaring George Petel their candidate in the riding for the upcoming federal election, the Liberals have switched candidates. Jesse McCormick of Kamloops is now the Liberal candidate, after Petel dropped out of the race, saying he wants to focus on work and family.
McCormick is up against Conservative candidate Frank Caputo, a Crown prosecutor, and the NDP’s Bill Sundhu, a lawyer and former provincial court judge, as well Iain Currie — the Green Party candidate — and Corally Delwo, who is running for the People’s Party of Canada.
McCormick called for the public’s support for the Liberals in this election, noting in a media release that “we are facing the unprecedented challenge of keeping our families and communities safe from extreme wildfires during a global pandemic. We have all been impacted and we are all in this together.”
An Anishinaabe who is married with two children, McCormick said he is passionate about building a better Canada — “One that is inclusive, fair, and responsive to the needs of the most vulnerable” — and continuing to build strong relationships with Indigenous Peoples.
A lawyer who worked on some of the “largest infrastructure projects in our country including projects in Kamloops-Thompson-Cariboo,” McCormick has also worked at the Federal Court of Canada, the United Nations, and on Parliament Hill, and has been a labourer, manufacturer, dishwasher, and Zamboni driver.
“I know what a hard day of work feels like whether it is in a plant, behind a counter, or on endless hours of virtual meetings,” he said in a media release.
“Most importantly, I have worked at the heart of decision making in Ottawa and I know and understand how to make change happen.”
Caputo, 42, has lived most of his life in Kamloops and said he feels privileged to have been born in the riding. When not working as a lawyer, Caputo teaches part-time at TRU’s law school. To help the riding, Caputo said he wants to focus on health care and see more federal dollars be put into creating jobs for doctors in rural and smaller communities. While he hasn’t run for office before, Caputo sees this as a plus, as it will allow him to bring a fresh new voice to the political stage.
Sundhu, who has spent the past 25 years in Kamloops, calls himself a “son of the Cariboo,” having grown up in Williams Lake, where he also practiced law. He spent much of his youth in Lac La Hache and 100 Mile House, working in lumber mills to pay for his university education. Sundhu previously ran in the riding in 2015, coming in second to McLeod with 21,466 votes.
“I believe we’re at a crucial crossroads in our country,” Sundhu told the 100 Mile Free Press in an interview earlier this year, noting the pandemic has led to inequities across the region in terms of the economy, health care, and the environment. “We feel there’s a good base here but it requires a good candidate and a good team. The decisions we make today will affect us for decades.”
Currie, who ran in the 2019 federal election, said he is running again in 2021 because the last 18 months have created even more urgency for positive change.
“Vote for urgent action against the crisis that is burning up our forests. Vote for a party based on values, not the desire for power. Vote for a long-term vision of a just, sustainable, and prosperous future,” Currie said in a media release.
“I wish I could say that I was happy to be back so soon, campaigning to represent the good people of Kamloops-Thompson-Cariboo as your Member of Parliament, but I am going to be honest with you: I am not. This is a foolish and unnecessary election called for purely selfish political gain at a time when our community is on fire, battling a fourth wave of COVID-19, and struggling to come to terms with the horror of hundreds of unmarked graves of children at the residential school.”
Delwo, who was raised in Alberta but moved to B.C. in 2009, spent the past 12 years studying at Thompson Rivers University, has opened her own business, and is an active community volunteer. Her bio on the party’s website says she has spent a long time “watching our country being destroyed and now she believes that there is a need for someone to step up and help fix it.”