Press releases

February 7, 2011

Exciting three-way race bodes well for the NDP, says riding president

With three nominees in the race, the federal NDP will choose their candidate for Vancouver Island North at a nomination meeting Feb. 27 in Courtenay.

Port McNeill town councillor Shirley Ackland, former Courtenay city councillor Erik Eriksson, and current Courtenay city councillor Ronna-Rae Leonard have put their names forward for the nomination.

“We’re very excited to have three strong nominees with great track records of serving their communities,” said Roger Kishi, president of the Vancouver Island North NDP riding association.

“NDP members throughout the riding are looking forward to a lively contest,” he said. “Whatever the outcome, we know we’ll have a strong candidate who will provide voters in this riding with a positive alternative to Stephen Harper and the Conservatives.”

NDP members will be able to vote by mail, or in person at the meeting, which will take place at the Native Sons Hall at 360 Cliffe Ave. For those who vote live at the meeting, registration opens at 12:30 p.m. and closes at 1:30 p.m. The meeting will begin at 1 p.m.

For the past three elections, Vancouver Island North has been a swing riding between the Conservatives and New Democrats. FMI, contact Vancouver Island North NDP at: 1-877-338-1033 or:

January 17, 2011

NDP Candidate Search in Process

Candidate recruitment is in full swing for the Vancouver Island North NDP as the party gears up for a nomination meeting in the coming weeks.

“Several strong contenders are seriously considering a run for the nomination,” says Roger Kishi, president of the local NDP riding association. “NDP members are getting excited about choosing a new candidate and gaining momentum as we prepare for the coming federal election.

“We’re confident that we can win back this riding. People are feeling more and more disappointed with Stephen Harper’s Conservative government, and they’re looking to Jack Layton and the NDP as a positive alternative.”

Kishi said the New Democrats will announce details of the local nomination meeting once potential candidates formally declare their intentions.

Anyone interested in seeking the NDP nomination should call 1-877-338-1033, or
e-mail: for more information.

The New Democrats are seeking a new candidate for this riding after former MP Catherine Bell decided not to run in the next election so she could devote her attention to her new role as owner/operator of the Zocalo Cafe in Courtenay.

January 4, 2011

Bell steps down from federal race

NDP set to select a new candidate in Vancouver Island North

Former NDP MP Catherine Bell has decided not to run as a candidate in the next federal election, opening the door for the New Democrats to nominate a new candidate for Vancouver Island North.

“I am convinced the New Democrats can and will win back Vancouver Island North in the next election, but it’s going to be a close race,” said Bell. “As the new owner of a thriving small business, I find that I am unable to commit the time and resources required for a successful campaign. Therefore I’ve decided to step out of politics and open the door for a new candidate and new energy.”

The NDP riding association has already embarked on a candidate search, and will announce details of a nomination meeting shortly. Bell said she will fully support the successful candidate.

“People in Vancouver Island North feel very let down by the Harper Conservatives. They worked with Gordon Campbell to bring in the HST, they’ve broken their promise and appointed more partisan senators than any other government, and they care more about big banks and corporations than ordinary families,” she said.

“Jack Layton and the NDP are offering a positive alternative and I will do everything I can to help election a New Democrat MP in this riding.”

Bell has run for the federal NDP in Vancouver North three times, and served as MP from 2006 to 2008.

“It has been a real honour to serve the people of Vancouver Island North,” she said. “But it’s time for me to move on to new challenges and make way for a new candidate.”

Bell became the owner/operator of Zocalo Cafe in downtown Courtenay last summer. “I love this new occupation, but it takes a great deal of time and energy,” she said.

December 7, 2010

Bell celebrates success of NDP tanker ban motion

Canada is one step closer to having a full legislative ban on supertankers operating off BC’s coasts after an NDP motion passed in the House of Commons 143 to 138.

“I celebrate the success of this motion with Nathan Cullen- NDP MP for Skeena- Bulkley Valley and the rest of the caucus in Ottawa,” says Catherine Bell, former NDP MP and current candidate for Vancouver Island North. “Now the government has clear direction to move forward and bring in much needed legislation.”

Bell introduced a private members bill banning tankers off BC’s coast in 2008, and Fin Donnelly- NDP MP for New Westminster- Coquitlam has introduced a similar bill in the current Parliament.

“This victory has been the culmination of years of hard work and consultation with communities, First Nations and other stakeholders,” adds Bell. “Now a majority of British Columbians support a ban, and now so do the majority of elected MP’s.”

Since this motion was tabled, thousands of Canadians have stepped up to support the tanker ban: joining online groups, signing up for email updates, signing petitions and lobbying their MP’s.

“I’m calling on John Duncan, current MP for Vancouver Island North, to stand up for British Columbians, and respect the will of the House, by immediately getting the Harper government to introduce a bill that stops tankers once and for all,” concludes Bell.

October 26, 2010

 Bell supports call for independent expert review on Raven Coal

Letter to the Editor

The public has clearly demonstrated their interest and concerns regarding the Raven Underground Coal Mine proposed here in the Comox Valley. CoalWatch makes a sound argument for the strongest form of environmental assessment. 

Coal Watch says, “We cannot take this lightly. We need the strongest possible environmental assessment and comprehensive mapping of aquifers in this region before any further consideration is given to the mine proposal.”   And they are correct, we must all, as stewards of the environment speak now and call on the Federal government to  act in the interest of the environment that they have  a duty to protect. 

Vancouver Island North MP- John Duncan needs to listen to his constituents and immediately call on his Cabinet colleague, the Minister of the Environment, to refer this matter to an independent expert review panel. Let’s not let this issue be another case of this government denying the facts to the public to suit their purposes.

Catherine Bell- NDP Candidate, Vancouver Island North

Bell urges action on Aboriginal issues

August 16, 2010 

This letter to the editor was sent to North Island papers on August 15, 2010

Congratulations to Vancouver Island North MP John Duncan on his appointment as Minister of Indian Affairs and Northern Development, Federal Interlocutor for Métis and Non-status Indians. 

There is so much that needs addressing in this Ministry. First Nations, Inuit and Métis peoples deserve respectful engagement to reach mutually acceptable resolution on issues. 

The U.N. established August 9 as the International Day of the World’s Indigenous Peoples in December 1994 as part of the International Decade of the World’s Indigenous People. The U.N. Assembly proclaimed a Second International Decade in 2004. The U.N. Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples was passed in 2007. 

I’m calling on Minister Duncan to act swiftly to have Canada endorse the U.N. Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples. The refusal of the Conservatives to sign the UN Declaration was an international embarrassment to Canadians and an insult to Aboriginal peoples in Canada. 

The NDP believes in implementing the recommendations of the Royal Commission on Aboriginal Peoples, the United Nations Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples and Jordan’s Principle. 

I stand in support and solidarity with all Aboriginal people in finding resolutions to their long outstanding issues. 

Catherine Bell


July 4, 2010 


Bell welcomes Layton back to Vancouver Island North 

Jack Layton’s New Democrats have a plan to target Conservative MP’s head- on in key ridings like Vancouver Island North. 

“We’re getting ready for the next federal election by keeping pressure on the Harper government on issues important to Vancouver Island North voters, like HST, protection of the environment and the economy,” says NDP candidate Catherine Bell. 

As the oil disaster in the Gulf of Mexico spreads, Stephen Harper is actually weakening the environmental oversight on Canada’s Big Polluters. As middle class Canadians grasp for hope of an economic recovery, Stephen Harper is raising our taxes and shovelling billions to already profitable banks. 

“I’ve been calling for the current MP- John Duncan to listen to all those people that have signed the HST petition, and to represent their wishes,” says Bell. “Duncan voted with the  Conservatives to pass the HST, now he should listen to voters.” 

Jack Layton, and his NDP colleague Olivia Chow will be here July 8 & 9. Bell will be hosting a social with Jack & Olivia on Thursday, July 8 at 6:30pm, at the Zocalo Cafe, 208A- 5th Street, Courtenay. (5th & Cliffe) They will also be attending the opening of Vancouver Island MusicFest on Friday, July 9.    

“We can defeat the Conservatives here in Vancouver Island North,” adds Bell. “Having Jack back for the second time this year is a key part of making that happen.” 

June 18, 2010


Bell urges voters to contact Duncan 

With just over a week to go before the HST is set to begin, federal NDP candidate Catherine Bell is stepping up the campaign to urge Vancouver Island North MP John Duncan to speak out against the new tax. 

“With the success of the petition initiative, it’s now obvious to everyone; British Columbians are determined to stop the tax. So let’s put the brakes on the Harper-Campbell HST before it starts,” said Bell. 

Bell is encouraging voters to send a strong message to Duncan in the coming days. The NDP is taking out ads in local newspapers, launching an e-mail campaign, and contacting voters to encourage them to call John Duncan to tell him what they think about the HST. 

“It will be more expensive and difficult to undo the HST after it starts July 1, so I am urging Mr. Duncan to do the right thing and tell Stephen Harper that the tax won’t fly in B.C.” she said. 

“John Duncan and the Conservatives passed the legislation to bring in the HST, now they should listen to BC voters,” she said. 

To tell John Duncan what you think about the HST, call his office at 1-800-667-8404.

Click VanIslandNorth-Ad-5×4-Colour to view ad.

May 5, 2010


Federal NDP candidate Catherine Bell is calling on MP John Duncan and the Conservatives to heed the warning from the Gulf of Mexico disaster and reverse their support for oil drilling and tanker traffic on the B.C. coast.

“We cannot risk this kind of catastrophe on our shores,” said Bell. “It’s time for John Duncan to re-examine his support for oil drilling and tanker traffic, listen to the people of Vancouver Island north, and take steps to ensure this kind of disaster never happens on the B.C. coast.”

Bell noted that within days of the oil rig explosion off the Gulf of Mexico, California Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger withdrew his support of a plan to expand oil drilling off the California coast.

“If an oil drilling advocate like Gov. Schwarzenegger can learn from the Gulf disaster, surely John Duncan can as well,” said Bell. “It’s time to permanently terminate tanker traffic on the B.C. coast. I urge Mr. Duncan to press the government to enshrine a moratorium on coastal oil tanker traffic.

“As we can see in the Gulf, the risk of an oil spill is just too great. This is a disaster for the environment, the economy, and thousands of jobs.”

She noted that last month NDP fisheries critic Fin Donnelly marked the anniversary of the Exxon Valdez oil spill by introducing a Bill that would ban oil tankers in the Hecate Strait, Dixon Entrance and Queen Charlotte Sound. Donnelly’s Bill is modelled after a similar initiative that Bell put forward while she was MP for Vancouver Island North.

“The federal government is currently pursuing a massive northern pipeline that would transport oil from the tar sands to Prince Rupert, for loading onto super tankers,” she said. “I hope Mr. Duncan will support Fin Donnelly’s bill and put a stop to this plan.”

Bell also noted that John Duncan supports the Gordon Campbell provincial government’s efforts to lift the moratorium on coastal oil drilling.

“We have to make the protection of our marine eco-system a top priority,” she said. “It is crucial that we learn from the catastrophe in the Gulf.”

April 19, 2010

“This is too important for partisan politics,” says NDP candidate

Federal NDP candidate Catherine Bell is pleased that an NDP Bill to fight climate change passed an important vote in the House of Commons last week, but she says it’s disappointing that local Conservative MP John Duncan voted against the measures to achieve greenhouse-gas reduction targets.

“This is too important for partisan politics,” said Bell. “For the sake of future generations we need to work together to fight climate change. As we approach Earth Day, I hope Mr. Duncan will listen to his constituents and agree that climate change requires immediate and effective action.”

Despite Conservative opposition, the NDP’s Climate Change Accountability Act (Bill C-311), moved one step closer to becoming law when it passed a key vote on Wednesday, April 14. The Bill won by 155 to 137. It will become law if and when it passes a final vote later this spring.

The Bill will require the government to set targets reducing greenhouse gas emissions to 25% below 1990 levels by the year 2020 and to 80% below by 2050.

“As in the past, the majority of the Members of Parliament supported this Bill because they want immediate action on climate change” said Bell. “But unfortunately, John Duncan and the rest of the Conservative science-deniers voted against the Bill.”

C-311 was modelled on an earlier Bill introduced by New Democrat Leader Jack Layton in 2007. It was passed by the House of Commons in 2008 with the support of the Liberals and the Bloc, but died in the Senate when the election was called.

“This Bill will make the government accountable to Canadians for action on climate change through regular reporting on measures to achieve firm targets,” said Bell. “Finally, it looks like Canada will be able to move ahead with clear regulations and frameworks for fighting climate change because of this legislation from Jack Layton and the New Democrats.

“After the Prime Minister’s dismal performance at Copenhagen and his stubborn refusal to recognize the urgency, I hope the Conservatives will finally recognize that Canadians want action on climate change. Bill C-311 will certainly pass when it comes back to the House of Commons later this spring. The only question is whether John Duncan and the Conservatives will drag their heels or join the fight against climate change.”

March 17, 2010

Parliament passes NDP motion to limit prorogation   

The House of Commons passed the following NDP motion 139-135 today: 

That in the opinion of the House, the Prime Minister shall not advise the Governor General to prorogue any session of any Parliament for longer that seven calendar days without a specific resolution of this House of Commons to support such a prorogation. 

“North Islander’s were outraged when Stephen Harper prorogued Parliament on December 30, 2009,” said Catherine Bell, Vancouver Island North NDP Candidate. “Rallies across the nation on January 23, including Courtenay, showed that people were feed up with the arrogance and contempt of this government.” 

The NDP motion places limits on Harper’s high- handed power to shut down Parliament when he wishes. Any decision to prorogue longer than seven days will be subject to a vote of MP’s. 

The motion was supported by the Liberal and Bloc caucuses, and is a reasonable and constructive proposal that addresses concerns by the opposition since this latest prorogation. 

“The Prime Minister’s power to padlock Parliament at his whim needed to be curbed,” adds Bell. “Stephen Harper promised more open and accountable government. Instead, they are more secretive and less accountable, running roughshod over democracy and our democratic institutions.” 

The NDP continues to be the effective opposition to the Harper Conservatives by making Parliament work to get results for people.


March 5, 2010 


People who lost their jobs and other victims of this recession are the losers in this budget while banks whose profits just doubled hit the jackpot, said New Democrat Leader Jack Layton. 

“Budgets are about choices. Mr. Harper is giving banks and oil companies, the most profitable corporations in the country, billions in corporate tax give aways, rather than help lift seniors out of poverty by increasing the Guaranteed Income Supplement. Instead, they are promising nothing more than to consult seniors about their poverty. That`s not help. That`s a stalling tactic. 

“Mr. Harper hasn’t learned anything from this economic crisis, which was triggered by a lack of regulation and reckless risk-taking by banks and financial speculators. Instead, he’s offering more of the same old policies that got us into trouble in the first place.” 

In Wednesday’s Speech from the Throne, the Harper government also promised that it would not raise taxes on “hard-working Canadians,” but it did just that in the budget. 

“That little box on your paycheque labelled EI is where they are going to hit, starting in 2011, every wage earner and every employer in the country with $19 billion in new taxes. They’re taking from you and giving to the banks and big oil.” 

That tax burden is going to be even heavier for British Columbians, who will begin to pay the Harmonized Sales Tax (HST) on everything from funerals to vitamins, haircuts and movie tickets starting July 1st. 

“John Duncan and the Conservative’s budget priorities are wrong,” adds Catherine Bell, Vancouver Island North NDP candidate. “Their budget has nothing new for job creation and does nothing to address seniors’ poverty. North Islanders deserve better.” 

The budget did not include funding to address homelessness, climate change, childcare and maternal health.


February 23, 2010

Bell calls on Duncan to put seniors and working families first in upcoming Parliament 

With the House of Commons finally returning on March 3, New Democrat candidate Catherine Bell is calling on MP John Duncan to support NDP proposals to lift seniors out of poverty and help families through tough times. 

“It’s a matter of priorities.” says Bell, the former MP for Vancouver Island North. “Stephen Harper thinks it’s more important to give massive tax giveaways to corporations. The NDP has concrete proposals to improve pensions for seniors and speed up the economic recovery so Canadians can get back to work.” 

“I hope John Duncan won’t tow the Conservative party line and instead puts seniors and families ahead of corporate tax cuts.” 

Bell said Stephen Harper was wrong to shut down Parliament. “People in Vancouver Island North expect their government to get to work and help them through tough times,” she said. “People are appalled that the Conservatives shut down Parliament while so many Canadians are out of work, and so many seniors are living in poverty.” 

Jack Layton and the New Democrats are calling on the government to revamp the stimulus plan with a focus on creating good-paying, full-time jobs. The party is also calling for an extension to the Home Renovation Tax Credit, with changes to encourage renovations that improve energy efficiency. 

The party is also calling for a comprehensive package to provide retirement security for seniors, including enhanced CPP, improvements to the Guaranteed Income Supplement (GIS), and amendments to bankruptcy laws to protect pensioners. 

“With this new Parliament, John Duncan has a choice,” said Bell. “I urge him to reject the $6 billion corporate tax giveaway and use the money to help Canadians get back to work, and provide a better future for our seniors.”


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