Simons will be NDP candidate in federal election 

Musician and social worker from Sunshine Coast overwhelming choice of party members

The New Democrats have nominated social worker and musician Nicholas Simons as their candidate in the West Vancouver-Sunshine Coast riding during the next federal election.

Prime Minister Paul Martin is expected to call a federal election this spring.

Simons defeated Alice Lutes and Dana Larsen, who had previously run as the Marijuana Party candidate in federal and provincial elections. More than 100 of the NDP’s faithful turned out for the nomination meeting last Sunday at the Sechelt Legion Hall on the Sunshine Coast.

Simons won with an overwhelming majority of 146 votes. Larsen received 42 votes and Lutes garnered 37.

Simons, a social worker and former music teacher was most recently social services administrator for the Sechelt Indian Band.

He conceded that while he had won the battle there was now a war to be fought against reigning Conservative MP John Reynolds and the Liberals.

"Right now I think the NDP is being seen by a lot of people as the noble alternative because we haven’t been tainted by this Liberal advertising scandal," Simons said.

The Liberal advertising scandal involves the whereabouts of between $100 million and $250 million of taxpayer’s money, which, according to Auditor General Sheila Fraser, was siphoned to Liberal-friendly advertising firms in Quebec.

There is no doubt that this scandal, which has rocked Ottawa during the past two months, will drive voters away from the Liberal party, but Simons maintained that Reynolds and the Conservatives had also danced in the "shadows of corruption".

"I’m going after JR and I’m also going to go after the Liberal party… because there really has been a lot of scandalous behaviour and serious corruption going on and I intend to highlight it," Simons said.

"People might talk about the Liberals but what about the Conservatives? They’re the official opposition, why didn’t they pick up on this?"

Simons is expecting to find the majority of his support from the small business sector and younger voters.

"Why are there only a quarter of young voters voting? It’s because there’s a lot of cynicism about federal politics out there and I think it’s time to start listening to what the constituency wants."

Many New Democrats believe the one unique advantage Simons has in the coming election is that he has a completely different approach to Reynolds.

"The thing about Nicholas is that he’s such a contrast to John Reynolds; he’s a young guy who values the arts and has spent a lot of time in social services and occupied with social justice issues," said Bill Forst, president of the West Vancouver-Sunshine Coast NDP Riding Association.

Meantime, the Liberal party has confirmed they will not be nominating a candidate for the West Vancouver-Sunshine Coast riding until after March 29.

The post-March 29 date has been set to ensure that all Liberal party members, who might be out of town because of spring break activities, have a chance to vote.

When the Liberals do vote they will have to choose between Phil Boname, John Moonen and Blair Wilson.

The Greens, who have a strong following in Whistler, have already chosen Andrea Goldsmith to represent the party in this riding.

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