BC Liberal leadership race

BC Liberal race is starting to shape up with now four candidates having entered. Below are my initial thoughts on each. Obviously I want to see what type of policies each rolls out and to be fair with vaccinations, there are a lot of unknowns in the next year. Will inflation become a problem, does housing affordability get worse or improve, how is transportation as do people continue working remotely or return to office? What are details of the federal childcare plan and its costs? Does vaccine lead to an L shape, V shape, or K shaped recovery and on debt and deficit does it fall dramatically or become a problem? Lots of unknowns but as more get vaccinated and life starts to return to normal, we will get answers to many of those and thus can idea of what policies best to tackle them. Below are more initial thoughts on each

Gavin Dew

Until recently I knew little about him, but wanting to get known, he contacted me directly and even set up a zoom meeting. As a millennial husband and father, he in many ways represents the new generation of BC Liberals. Party is very much an over 40, mostly white and losing ground each election cycle in the Lower Mainland. As an entrepreneurial millennial, he is one that can help re-establish party with younger generations who don’t remember the disaster of the NDP in 90s thus being anti-NDP won’t work and BC Liberals aren’t connecting with. He seemed to know his stuff well, which was encouraging. At same time lack of political experience is a bit of a worry and this might be a good time to get himself known so he can run next time around. Still want to see more on him before judging.

Kevin Falcon

If Dew is new, Kevin Falcon is exact opposite. He has loads of experience and was one of the more competent cabinet ministers in the Campbell government. He is a strong fighter and won’t take NDP attacks lying down. Also being from suburbs and wanting to re-build pro free enterprise coalition while deal with new issues facing Lower Mainland families is a plus. At same time, I worry being a member of past government could be a liability. When parties get defeated, they rarely comeback with a leader connected to past administration. Both Harper and Trudeau were not part of the government the last time their party formed government so I think there is something to be said about wanting a leader not connected to past administration. Add to the fact he endorsed Maxime Bernier and clearly comes from the right of the party which no doubt NDP will play up hoping to ensure federal Liberal voters stay in NDP column and don’t drift back to BC Liberals. While I would have no problem supporting him in a general election, I do worry he is too much of yesterday’s man and his time may have passed. Still if he can have good solutions to current problems he may be right choice. Chretien in 1993 was in similar predicament yet governed quite differently than Trudeau sr, government so possible as an experienced seasoned politician he can adjust to changes since last time BC Liberals were in power.

Michael Lee

I supported him last time around and he did surprisingly well and came very close to winning. Had BC Liberals chosen him instead of Andrew Wilkinson, I highly doubt party would be in as bad a shape as they are now. He is from Vancouver, a visible minority which are both groups party has fallen with. Also his last campaign was about broadening the tent and having good ideas as well as not being tied to past administration are all assets. With three other strong candidates, he still may get my endorsement this time, but definitely will have to see what his plans are.

Ellis Ross

As a former leader of the Haisla Nation he is quite articulate and would be very tough for NDP to attack. I also think having a First Nation’s premier would be a real asset and may even inspire many First Nations the sky is the limit. Likewise as youngest demographic and fast growing yet often neglected, I feel he would pay more attention to their issues. Also not being connected to past administration is another asset. At some time being from Interior and a lot of focus on resource industry may be one liability. Party is still strong in Interior, its Lower Mainland it needs to improve in, so interested on what his policies will be for key issues in Lower Mainland.

After the drubbing the party took, that has not prevented them from attracting top tier candidates which is definitely a good sign. When you compare quality of candidates to last Tory leadership race, that says a lot in party feel confident about chances in 2024. Still NDP to date has avoided a lot of the mistakes that got them into trouble in 90s so defeating the NDP is a lot harder than it was in past. So having a strong capable leader may help party rebound, but that alone won’t be enough to return them to office. But at least with a strong set of candidates, I feel good about party’s chances of regaining ground.

2 thoughts on “BC Liberal leadership race

  1. It seems that the BC Liberals are in a pickle. They need to be able to get someone who can carry both the Interior and the Lower Mainland suburbs without compromising either one. I’d say either Ellis Ross or Michael Lee would be best – the fact that Ross is Indigenous could offset his weakness in the Lower Mainland, while Lee would need to move a bit to the right to keep the Interior gains.

    At least the BC Interior generally isn’t like the rural Prairies and that centre-right is mainstream for them. In many ways, it’s like Ontario where most rural areas are the same way (there is the Peace River region in BC where they could be squeezed on the right, but that’s no different than, say, Renfrew or Lanark Counties in Ontario). The ideal position for the BC Liberals is having a mix of centre and centre-right factions with perhaps a token voice farther right – that way, they can hold the rural vote without risk of a split while also being in a position to win over the Lower Mainland suburbs. The city of Vancouver itself is probably a lost cause (trying to chase them would require going to the left of centre, which would open the door wide to a challenge on their right). That said, there are such wide variances in the median voter – in Vancouver and Victoria, I would put it on the left; in the innermost suburbs (i.e. Burnaby, New Westminster) and the rest of the Island at centre-left, in the remaining suburbs (i.e. Richmond, Coquitlam, West Vancouver, Langley) at centre, in the Interior and Fraser Valley at centre-right and the BC Peace on the right.

    One thing hurting the BC Liberals is that they would probably not win even if they tied or had a slight lead in the popular vote, that is because they run up the numbers in the Interior while the NDP only really runs it up in parts of Vancouver which have far fewer seats, while they tend to win a lot of close races in a close election. (Interestingly, in Alberta in 2023, I think a tie between the UCP and NDP – or a narrow UCP popular vote win – would be an NDP majority unless WIPA is taking rural votes away).

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    1. I would say generally what you said is true. In Vancouver proper, they won’t beat NDP but I think Vancouver-False Creek and Vancouver-Fraserview are still winnable. First has a lot of well to do business types who may not care for social conservatism, but are pro business and for lower taxes while latter has large Chinese community who tend to be centre-right. But Vancouver-Point Grey or Vancouver-Fairview I agree are probably lost for good.

      I think bigger challenge is not so much geography but generational. Most over 50 remember the NDP from 90s as well as are also home owners so any policy that causes housing prices to fall could anger them. By same token most millennials don’t remember NDP of 90s while housing at least in Lower Mainland is out of reach and anyone who doesn’t have a plan to bring it down will struggle there. To be fair that is a pickle for both parties, but I think that is biggest challenge more than any ideology. Most voters tend to vote less on ideology and more who has best policies to deal with their concerns.

      Essentially if housing prices fall, those over 50 will be mad and worry that will ruin their retirement as many rely on their home as primary asset to fund their retirement beyond CPP, OAS, and GIS. By contrast many millennials are upset housing is not affordable as unlike in past where by 30 most could afford to buy homes; it is mostly just a dream at that age for many. And navigating this is going to be very tough for all parties.

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