BC MP Nathan Cullen back home after U.S. tour during election

Many Americans are wrestling with what to do next, now that Donald Trump has been elected president, MP Nathan Cullen reports.

  • Dec. 15, 2016 6:00 a.m.

MP Nathan Cullen was among those honoured by Maclean's magazine in 2016

Many Americans are wrestling with what to do next, now that Donald Trump has been elected president, MP Nathan Cullen reports.

The Skeena-Bulkley Valley representative is back on Canadian soil after a eight-day tour with the US State Department through Washington, D.C., Louisiana, and Ohio.

In Cleveland, Cullen visited both campaign parties where supporters watched the results.

“People were in absolute tears of joy, and tears of sadness,” he said.

Cullen himself said he was shocked with Tuesday night’s results, “simply because one of a dozen things would have disqualified (Trump) in my mind.”

He said it was clear that Trump had channeled a lot of fear and frustration in white America. Some Democrat supporters asked him about how to immigrate to Canada.

“I would laugh, thinking they’re making a joke – they wouldn’t laugh,” he said. “It was a serious conversation.”

Many election waters reported on social media the Canadian Immigration website going down for part of the evening. Cullen said he welcomes Americans seeking refuge north of the border, but encouraged them to wait and see what Trump will do.

“There’s another shoe to drop,” he said.

Cullen was also recently recognized by Maclean’s magazine as Parliament’s best orator of 2016.  A veteran MP, Cullen says he prepares for speeches in the House by mind-mapping what he intends to say, and how. He plots a central topic in the middle of a blank page and connects all the elements he hopes to address. That linear approach ideally produces a compelling speech.

“I don’t want to be too romantic about it, but the same person can ask the exact same question in two tonally different ways, and you’d think that two different things were going on,” he says. “I always want to walk them back a bit and say, ‘I know we’re asking about an oil spill here, but what feeling are we trying to accomplish? Do we want them to say yes? Do we want to embarrass them?’”

Cullen, who has represented the B.C. northwest, a riding larger than the country of Poland, for over 12 years, says it’s his constituents in the northwest who keep him grounded.

“The distance helps in a way,” he says. “I have to work very hard at translating things that are going on here to make sense there. I feel the bubble coming over me when I’m in Ottawa. The echo chamber starts almost immediately, and it disappears almost instantaneously when I’m back home.”

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