Iannidinardo wins Cowichan Valley NDP nomination battle

After 15 years of Liberal rule, it’s time to build a better B.C., according to Lori Iannidinardo.

After 15 years of Liberal rule, it’s time to build a better B.C., according to Lori Iannidinardo.

Iannidinardo won the nomination to represent the NDP in the Cowichan Valley in the provincial election this spring at a local party meeting on Jan. 15.

Iannidinardo, the director for Cowichan Bay on the Cowichan Valley Regional District board, took the nomination after just one ballot over two contenders, former school trustee Hannah Seymour and Leanne Finlayson, an assistant to local NDP MP Alistair MacGregor.

She will replace the retiring incumbent Bill Routley, who has held the seat for the NDP for two terms, as the party’s candidate for the Valley.

“If I win the seat in the election, my first focus will be on jobs, daycare spaces, health care and environmental protection, which is a big issue for me,” she said.

“I’m sure the NDP will form the next government. The expiry date for the Liberal government came and went some time ago.”

Iannidinardo has work to do as the election campaign heats up to heal rifts in her own party and riding, as well as having to face off against fellow CVRD director Sonia Furstenau, who is running in the Valley for the Green Party, and Steve Housser, who is running for the Liberals.

She will also face Ian Morrison, the former president of the Cowichan Valley NDP riding association, who will run as an independent in the election.

Morrison resigned his post last week citing the NDP’s new “equity-mandate” policy that prevented him from running for the Valley’s NDP nomination.

The equity-mandate policy states that when an incumbent male NDP MLA steps down from his seat, he must be replaced with a woman, or another member of an equity-seeking group, like a First Nation, another ethnic group or someone with a disability.

As well, former NDP candidate Georgia Collins recently withdrew from the race in the Valley in dramatic fashion, citing harassment and sexism, allegations the party said it is investigating further.

Iannidinardo said she doesn’t believe the controversial equity-mandate policy will hurt her, or her party’s chances, in the election.

“Party members voted to implement this policy a number of years ago, and there’s no confusion about it among our membership and I don’t see it becoming a major election issue,” she said.

“As for Georgia Collins, I believe she was a good candidate and the issues she has raised definitely need to be looked at. Overall, we need to bring enthusiasm back to the Valley so we can all work together to share our values and achieve our goals.”

Iannidinardo said she intends to hold on to her seat at the CVRD through the election campaign, and will resign if she is successful in winning the riding for the NDP.

“It’s one step at a time,” she said.

B.C. NDP leader John Horgan welcomed Iannidinardo to the party, saying she has “what it takes to help build a better B.C.”

“Lori Iannidinardo has the community connections and leadership skills to be a great advocate for people in the Cowichan Valley,” said Horgan in a statement.