Kelowna-Mission NDP going back to the future with replacement candidate

Former provincial and federal NDP candidate Tish Lakes has been named to replace the ousted Dayleen Van Ryswyk.

Tish Lakes

In a rare move for the party, the B.C. New Democrats have appointed a replacement candidate for Kelowna-Mission.

Former provincial and federal NDP candidate Tish Lakes was named the replacement for Dayleen Van Ryswyk, who was dumped by the party Tuesday after commnets she wrote four years ago on an online community forum critical of aboriginal people and French Canadians came to light.

Van Ryswyk, who has publicly apologized for any hurt or offence caused by her comments, has said she was asked to resign as the NDP Kelonwa-Mission candidate over the comment Dix described as “unacceptable.” (See her letter on page 11 of today’s Capital News.)

Lakes said while it is unusual for her party to appoint candidates, the timing of the change made it necessary. April 26 is the deadline for all candidates running in the May 14 provincial election to be in place and she said there was not enough time for the constituency association to hold a nomination meeting.

Van Ryswyk was acclaimed the party’s candidate for the upcoming election last month. She now says she will run as an independent.

Lakes said she agreed to run because she wants to see the NDP represented in all ridings in B.C.

“I’m very proud of (party leader) Adrian DIx and I want to support him,” said Lakes, the executive director of a non-profit society in Kelowna that provides legal advocacy services, dealing mostly with social assistance and tenancy issues for people with mental health challenges.

“Tish is a long-time New Democrat who has stepped up to the challenge of running in this competitive riding,” said Jan O’Brien, BC NDP deputy campaign director.

“Her work in the community is the kind of experience that makes a great candidate and her passion for change will make her a valued member of Adrian’s team.”

Lakes will run against incumbent Liberal MLA and cabinet minister Steve Thomson and, given her experience, is expected to provide an greater challenge in a riding that has traditionally been a Liberal stronghold. The B.C. Conservatives will be represented by Mike McLoughlin.

In 2009, Lakes ran for the provincial NDP in Westside-Kelowna, finishing second to Liberal Ben Stewart.  In the 2008, she finished second to Conservative incumbent Ron Cannan in the federal election in Kelowna-Lake Country.

While admitting she faces a challenge joining the race so late, Lakes said she will be aided by the fact there is already a campaign team and structure in place. A joint campaign office for the NDP candidates in Kelowna-Mission and Kelowna-Lake Country has already been opened. Mike Nuyens is running for the NDP in Kelowna-Lake Country.