Members of the B.C. Liberal Party will start voting Sunday to determine if the party should change its name to B.C. United.
The process to approve a name change was kickstarted at the June party convention in Penticton, B.C.
Party members in good standing will be allowed to vote online from 10 a.m. Sunday to 10 a.m. Tuesday. If more than 60 per cent of voters say they want the name changed, a constitutional ratification process will begin.
Leader Kevin Falcon had made renaming the party one of the planks of his policy platform during the leadership campaign.
The centre-right B.C. Liberals are not affiliated with the federal Liberal Party and have described themselves as a "made-in-B.C. free enterprise coalition.'' Some members believe the name has turned away conservative-leaning voters.
"As B.C. Liberals know very well, our name has been a constant topic of debate within our party for decades," Falcon said in a statement announcing the vote. "As I've said before, I'll be voting in favour of this name change and I hope our members do, too."
B.C. United was chosen as the alternative name for the party after nearly 2,000 suggestions were reviewed, according to the party.
The party says B.C. United reflects a fresh alternative that expresses a commitment to unity across a broad coalition of members while highlighting the province's name.
Ties with federal Liberals severed in 1987
The history of the Liberals' name in B.C. stretches back to 1903, when the B.C. Legislature first recognized political parties.
The B.C. Liberals were originally an arm of the national Liberal Party, but those ties were severed in 1987 when then-Capilano College instructor Gordon Wilson took over the party and began a rebuilding program.
The B.C. Liberals became the dominant centre-right party in the province in 1991. They held power in the legislature from 2001 until 2017. Currently, they hold 27 out of 87 seats in the house.
The ballot question in front of party members will be: Yes, I want to change the name of the party to "B.C. United"; or, No, I want to remain as the "B.C. Liberal Party."
Those who are unable to vote online can cast their vote over the phone, according to a party statement, which adds that voter authentication will be in place at all times.
If the vote goes through, a delegated convention will take place in early 2023 to properly approve the change, and Falcon will implement it at a time he deems appropriate.
The party notes that even if the vote succeeds, it will continue to hold the B.C. Liberals name in order to avoid future copycats.
Caroline Elliott, the vice-president of the Liberals, told CBC News that both the B.C. Liberal and B.C. United names had been registered with Elections B.C.
She said the timing of the change, if it is voted through, might be moved up if the ruling B.C. NDP decides to call a snap election.