Maple Ridge New Democrats will have candidate by late November

Mike Bocking, Bob D'Eith seeking nod to run for the party next spring against Liberals

The date for the final countdown to see who carries the NDP banner in Maple Ridge-Mission has been set, Nov. 25.

Place: Silverdale Hall in Mission.

Time: To be announced, although Mike Bocking expects it will be in the afternoon sometime.

Bocking, a Mission resident and president of the Media Union of B.C., is trying for the second time to win the riding, after a narrow loss (68 votes) in 2009 to B.C. Liberal Marc Dalton.

Bocking will be competing for the NDP nomination against Maple Ridge resident Bob D’Eith.

“I’ve worked hard on the NDP, in the NDP organization,” Bocking said Monday. “We’ve built a solid organization.”

Bocking ran three times federally in the past decade in Pitt Meadows-Maple Ridge-Mission, losing each time to Conservative MP Randy Kamp.

“I’m looking to take one more stab at it,” said Bocking.

He’s been active in Mission, opposing cuts to Mission Hospital, and involved with the Citizens Against Urban Sprawl Society.

D’Eith, executive-director for Music BC, says it will be a close race and will be a choice between Bocking’s experience and D’Eith’s new energy.

“It’’s really a question of the members deciding who they want, moving forward.”

It’s been more than a year since both have been nominees so it will be a relief to get the process underway,  he added.

Whoever wins the nomination will also be in for a battle against Liberal MLA Marc Dalton.

“No one’s taking anything for granted, that’s for sure,” D’Eith said.

Bocking though was also optimistic about the NDP’s chances in next spring’s election, saying the Liberals won the last election under “fake colours” by underestimating the provincial deficit.

The Liberals also said they wouldn’t bring in the Harmonized Sales Tax and they did, Bocking pointed out. “Marc Dalton has to take his share of the blame.”

Dalton, however, has said he too was surprised by the Gordon Campbell government’s  introduction of the HST in July 2010.

It combined the five per cent Goods and Services Tax with the seven per cent Provincial Sales Tax, then extended the new tax across new categories such as restaurant meals. The government has said it will revert to the old PST system next March, after being forced to do so by a referendum.

“I believe we have a good chance [in Maple Ridge-Mission], given the fact I barely missed it last time.” But that’s no reason for over confidence and the race will tighten as the election nears, Bocking said.