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B.C. MP Nathan Cullen considers NDP leadership bid

09/13/2011 03:15 EDT | Updated 11/13/2011 05:12 EST

B.C. MP Nathan Cullen could be the next candidate to join the race for the leadership of the federal NDP.

Cullen said he's close to jumping into the race, but has not made up his mind.

"We're going to take a pretty serious look. I'm going to try and get across the country in the next couple of weeks and talk to friends and supporters, but also people who are of that progressive movement in Canada and see if they think my name in the ring would be a good idea," he said.

"It's a sincere search. We're not doing this just for style. We're trying to see if this would be a good run or not."

Cullen said his interest is in renewing the party and invigorating its core values from the ground up.

"I'm a community organizer. I believe in communities and have worked right across the country for them, so we have a relatively decent network of people that are engaged and want to get engaged, so now we're just going to go and test that water [to see] if this role is particularly right for me," he said.

"If it's not, I'll be able to pull back. There's no big ego ride on this ... I want to feel like what I'm representing is something important, not just some sort of exercise to put my name on a ballot."

Cullen said he spoke with former NDP leaders Jack Layton and Ed Broadbent about the possibility of running for leadership over the years.

"I was pretty strong in denying any chance of me running simply because I liked the way Jack was doing his job. He was just such an inspirational leader and a real mentor to me that I didn't want to go there," he said.

"The last couple of weeks of this tragedy [of Layton's death] put me in a conversation that I didn't think I would want to be in, to be frank. It was a friend that I lost that day and the idea of replacing him is impossible."

Cullen said he's been overwhelmed by the suggestions he should run for NDP leadership.

"It's amazing. It's amazing to me and it's totally humbling ... when people write or call and say, 'You should consider doing this,' I can't believe they're talking about me to be honest," he said.

"I'm just some kid from Toronto [who] moved to B.C., somehow got elected and tried my best to represent people but I didn't have any aspirations, let's put it that way. I didn't have a plan."

Cullen was first elected to the House of Commons in 2004 as the MP for Skeena-Bulkley Valley.

He has served as critic for the Environment and National Parks portfolios, and in 2008 took over the Energy and Natural Resources portfolio.

On Monday, long-time NDP strategist Brian Topp announced his candidacy to replace Layton with an endorsement by Broadbent.

Layton died of cancer in August. Under his leadership, the party won 103 seats in the 2011 election and became the country's Official Opposition on May 2.

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