With the BC Liberal leadership race coming up this weekend, below is how at the moment I plan to rank the candidates. Unlike the Conservative leadership race where my first choice was easy, this was not an easy one. We have five outstanding candidates and anyone of them I could fully support in a general election (note I am excluding Sam Sullivan here). Instead of trying to yank the party well to the right as some federal Tories and it now seems Ontario PCs want to do, most were focused on good ideas to help make BC better. Note these are preliminary since if something happens between now and voting day, I could change them.
1. Michael Lee – People clearly voted for change last election and I believe to win next time around we need to broaden our appeal as Michael Lee plans to do. We also need someone who is not too closely tied to the past administration which Lee fits the bill. His popularity amongst millennials in the Mainstreet Research poll also matters as we need to find a way to connect with those who don’t remember the last NDP government and thus didn’t vote for us in big numbers. His platform is well thought out and quite sound. My only beef with him was his interview with the pro-life organization, Right Now, where he said he was pro-life. While he will not change any legislation, there is no doubt the NDP will use this as an attack against him, so he needs to unequovically say abortion legislation will not change period.
2. Todd Stone – Has a bold well thought out platform. He is also the youngest and reasonably well spoken which matters a lot in a general election. Also he has been with the party through both its good and tough periods so he strikes me as someone who can help right the ship even in tough times. Only weakness is connection to last government and also he is from the Interior, which is our stronghold not the Lower Mainland where we need to gain, but still has good ideas to help us do better in the Lower Mainland.
3. Diane Watts – Originally she was going to be my first choice, but her poor performance in the debates is my reason for ranking her third instead of first. She was a successful mayor of Surrey and had we just won one more seat there, we would have a majority. Strong understanding of transportation issues which are key to winning back suburban voters. Her main liability is poor debating skills and we need a sharp debater to beat Horgan. If the NDP had a majority, that would be less of an issue as she would have 3.5 years to brush up on her skills but with the risk of the government falling sooner, we need someone who is ready right away. Her federal Tory ties are less of an issue than some think as she was never a Harper cabinet minister and most see the BC Liberals as a conservative not liberal party anyways.
4. Andrew Wilkinson – Competent and has a detailed platform. His big weakness is lack of charisma which shouldn’t matter but sadly in today’s political world does, especially amongst younger voters whom we must do better amongst. I was planning to put him in the top three, but his deal with Mike de Jong to rank each either first and second reeked of backroom politics which people are tired of and we need to move beyond.
5. Mike de Jong – I like his platform and ideas and think he is quite capable so my reason for putting him fifth is more due to electability not my discomfort with him. He has been MLA since 1994 and held many cabinet positions. This shows he is quite experienced and in the past this would be a good thing. But we live in a world where people are sick and tired of the establishment and with De Jong being as close to being establishment as you can get, that is a problem. He is like our version of Hillary Clinton who was probably the most qualified person ever to run for president, but lost as she was too tied to the establishment. Whether it be the NDP win in Alberta, Trump’s win in the US, Macron winning a landslide in France under a party that didn’t exist 18 months earlier, and Jeremy Corbyn’s near upset in the UK; we live in a world where people are tired of the establishment. The governments of Campbell and Clark were good ones, but people wanted change so the less tied the leader is to them, the better.
Sam Sullivan – I would still vote for him in a general election, but I think choosing him would be a huge mistake. He has too many wacky proposals and is too off the cuff so he is by far the most likely to say and do something that lands us in hot water during the campaign. That being said he won’t win so largely a non-issue. For disclosure he is my MLA.
UPDATE: I have now officially voted in the BC Liberal leadership race and voted as listed above. Regardless of who wins, I hope the party comes together so we can defeat the NDP next election. I plan to throw my full support behind whomever wins.
Second UPDATE: Andrew Wilkinson has won. He was not my first choice, but he has my full 100% support and I will support him and the party in winning the next election. It was a close and exciting race and all six candidates should be thanked. With my first choice of Michael Lee, I honestly didn’t expect him to do nearly as well as he did. Now is the time for all BC Liberals no matter whom they supported to come together and work to defeat John Horgan and his reckless NDP/Green alliance.