By Dale Bass
Kamloops This Week
Criticizing the Stephen Harper government for bringing cynicism to Parliament, Kamloops lawyer Bill Sundhu is seeking to run for a seat in that Ottawa building — as a member of the New Democratic Party of Canada.
In making the announcement he will run for the federal nomination in the Kamloops-Thompson-Cariboo riding — now held by Conservative Cathy McLeod — Sundhu said he has spoken with “men, women and youth from various walks of life . . . worried that the sacrifices and choices made by previous generations of Canadians to build a society based on fairness and equality of opportunity is in peril.”
Sundhu is a former judge and now a lawyer focusing on human rights.
He was recently appointed to the list of council for the International Criminal Court (ICC).
Sundhu said Harper’s government has borrowed an ideology “from the U.S. Republican playbook” that has divided voters into us versus them and led to attack ads, contempt of Parliament “and bellicose rhetoric” that has attacked veterans and the chief justice of the Supreme Court of Canada.
Eight years ago, Sundhu — then a provincial-court judge in Kamloops — was arrested after he verbally abused a staff member at a Vancouver hotel and threatened the jobs of officers sent to arrest him.
He knows this will be an issue should he secure the NDP nomination for the Oct 19, 2015, federal election.
“That’s old history,” he said. “I made a mistake but, in hindsight, it became an opportunity to be a better person.”
When he resigned as judge, then-attorney general Wally Oppal questioned whether that step was necessary, praising Sundhu’s years as a lawyer and a judge.
Sundhu said the incident was a turning point and led him to later be accepted into a prestigious human-rights law program at Oxford University and, most recently, his involvement with the ICC, which deals with genocide, war crimes, crimes of aggression and crimes against humanity.
He said he has been approached by NDP members several times in recent years and has some history with the local federal Liberal constituency association.
“But, this is the direction I have chosen to go,” he said, calling next year’s vote “a historical election, a fight for the soul of our country.”
The Kamloops-Thompson-Cariboo riding association has not yet announced a date to hold its nomination meeting.