Atamanenko feels the crush

Alex Atamanenko is a victim of his party’s success and it’s still unclear what that means for those he represents in the Southern Interior.

Alex Atamanenko is a victim of his party’s success and it’s still unclear what that means for those he represents in the Southern Interior.

Last week our local MP was snubbed by NDP leader Jack Layton when Canada’s new political star unveiled his shadow cabinet. Atamanenko admitted it stung.

Since being elected in 2006, the Castlegar-based MP has dogged the Tories as the NDP critic for agriculture. But with the political left rising in numbers from 35 to 103 after the May 2 federal election, all that hard work was seemingly ignored as Atamanenko was dropped from playing a key role in caucus.

On one hand the move is disturbing for a rural outpost riding already virtually invisible on the federal political map.

The NDP’s impressive showing last month came as a result of a Quebec surge. With 60 per cent of all its seats now in la belle province, it’s clear the NDP’s focus will become more Quebec-centric. Already without much clout in Ottawa on the opposite side of power, our MP is now marginalized within a caucus distracted by issues far removed from everyday life in British Columbia.

On the upside, it would appear Atamanenko should have more time to focus on his own riding. Though his work ethic is not to be questioned, our MP is only one guy. The work he has been doing as the agriculture critic had to have taken away from time he could have been spending on more localized issues. Perhaps now we will see more of a connection with Ottawa as Atamanenko finds other ways to fill his time.

It’s a time of great change in our nation’s capital. There’s reason for optimism and reason for fear.

Exactly how the political shift is going to impact everyday life in the Southern Interior is still a little hazy. Only time will tell how our man in Ottawa reinvents himself in an era where the Orange Crush has become a major player.

Nelson Star