Mike Nuyens plans to dethrone incumbent MLA Norm Letnick through old-fashioned legwork and by tapping into his local roots.
The newest NDP candidate to run in May's provincial election won the nomination for Kelowna-Lake Country by edging out Tom Macauley on Tuesday night. Nuyens figures he has an advantage in the coming vote: unlike his Liberal opponent Letnick and Conservative candidate Graeme James, he's never been a Kelowna city councillor.
"A lot of people in Lake Country and Rutland . . . are tired of getting pushed around by the city of Kelowna," he said Wednesday. "We have a pretty good constituency in the Kelowna boundary."
Nuyens, 52, was born and raised in Lake Country and traces his local roots to when his grandfather settled there in 1912. Letnick may have a high profile as agriculture minister, but he's lived in the Okanagan only about 10 years, he said.
"I bring the local connections back to politics. . . . That's what's important."
A former hockey coach, firefighter and small-business owner, Nuyens is now a machine operator and representative for the B.C. Government Employees Union. In a speech Tuesday night, he called for a national Pharmacare plan that ensures seniors get better access to residential care and home support.
Nuyens supports subsidizing farmers so they can compete against countries flooding local markets with cheap produce. He questioned Letnick's commitment to agriculture, suggesting the minister spends more time talking about health than what farmers and orchardists need.
Valley lakes need more protection through stricter regulations, he said, and students should have greater access to post-secondary education.
"Since the Liberals took power in 2001, tuition fees have more than doubled, non-repayable grants for students have been eliminated and students are graduating on average $27,000 in debt."
Nuyens plans to go door to door and "get people informed" about the issues before the May 14 election, he said.