Layton dials up Hunter in Tumbler Ridge.

One thousand kilometers and 25,000 peace activists didn?t deter Jack Layton from sending a personal message to Michael Hunter who was acclaimed as the NDP candidate in the federal riding of Prince George ? Peace River on March 20, 2004. From an enthusiastic backdrop of cheers and celebration, Layton spoke from Vancouver, via teleconference, to Hunter and the rest of the large crowd that had gathered in the northern town.

Delegates came from Prince George, Mackenzie, Chetwynd, Hudson Hope, Dawson and Fort St. John. They arrived to a warm setting with live music provided by Brian Bray and vocalist Erin Hanna. Then, after a pre-recorded video of their federal leader, Jack Layton put a personal touch on the afternoon with his call. He spoke about the need to resist the aggressive foreign policy of nations who do not respect the United Nations, or the rule of international law. Layton also addressed the US Stars Wars program and noted that the Liberals and Conservatives support the initiative even though the majority of Canadians do not.

Hunter picked up on that theme later and pointed out that defense critic Jay Hill is out of touch with his constituents by supporting the program. ?It is becoming more and more obvious that there is very little difference between the Liberal and Conservative parties,? he said. ?Both have proven by their actions that they are more interested in keeping the White House happy than they are in looking after the interests of Canadians. This program is a huge waste of taxpayer?s money that provides no real defense against 21st century security threats.?

The following day Rick Smith was elected as the NDP candidate for Caribou ? Prince George. Smith, a lawyer and crown prosecutor from Prince George beat out Alfred Trudeau who is an IWA worker residing in Quesnel. The two candidates got through the their nomination and election process without any of the controversy now affecting their Conservative and Liberal counterparts.

Hunter and Smith spoke Sunday night about how they can help one another in the upcoming federal election. The Nechako River in Prince George separates their two ridings, whose newly proposed boundaries will go before the House of Commons for approval on April 02, 2004.