B.C. Liberals approve process to consider party name change

·3 min read
After assuming the mantle of the B.C. Liberal Party Leader, Kevin Falcon said he would seek to rebuild the party, which could now include a name change by the end of 2022.  (THE CANADIAN PRESS/Chad Hipolito - image credit)
After assuming the mantle of the B.C. Liberal Party Leader, Kevin Falcon said he would seek to rebuild the party, which could now include a name change by the end of 2022. (THE CANADIAN PRESS/Chad Hipolito - image credit)

Members of British Columbia's Liberal Party have approved a process to potentially change the party's name by the end of the year.

Party members voted on the resolution at a convention in Penticton Saturday that welcomed new leader Kevin Falcon, and sought to define the party's strategy for the next election, which is scheduled for the fall of 2024.

The resolution passed Saturday will give all members of the B.C. Liberal Party the chance to vote on a new name or maintain the current one by the end of the year.

"The party's name must be one that reflects a diverse and inclusive big-tent coalition," said Falcon in a release shortly after the vote by some 800 delegates.

The B.C. Liberals are not affiliated with the federal Liberal party and have described themselves as a "made-in-B.C. free enterprise coalition.''

Liberal Trevor Halford, who represents the Surrey-White Rock riding in the legislature, said around 75 per cent of delegates voted in favour of the name-change process

The party said it will immediately begin a wider consultation process over the coming months before holding a vote of the entire party membership before the end of the year.

 

The party has launched an online consultation portal for members to provide their input.

"This is a decision that the membership will ultimately make, and we want to hear from everyone, so we encourage people to go online and give us their thoughts," said Falcon.

Name change overdue: former cabinet minister

Falcon, who won the leadership race earlier this year, promised to renew and rebuild the party in a "root-to-branch'' process that included Saturday's vote to begin a process that could see the Liberals running under a new name.

Some MLAs speaking from the convention, which has 800 delegates, said that there has been a desire to consider a new name.

Former Liberal cabinet minister Mary Polak said she believes a name change is overdue.

"For many, many years there has been a large group of the membership that has wanted to see a name change,'' she said. "Part of how you express your identity as a party is through your name.''

 

Polak, a former four-term MLA for Langley, where federal Conservative roots are deep, said she often had to explain to constituents during elections that she was not running for the federal Liberals.

"Sometimes I'd knock on the door and the homeowner would come out and say, 'Mary, have you switched allegiances?''' she said.

"It's time,'' said Polak. "I don't think the name now clearly identifies the party.''

B.C's Election Act prohibits the registration of a party under a name that has appeared on a ballot within the past 10 years.

The Liberals were reduced to 28 seats in the province's 87-seat legislature in the last election, but are coming off a spring legislative sitting where they challenged the New Democrat government on health-care issues and plans to embark on a major museum rebuilding project.

"We are seeing a government that's focused on a billion-dollar museum when we've got schools that have not been seismically upgraded. We've got one in five people who cannot find a family doctor, almost one million people,'' said Halford.

'Next step is to become government'

The recent political performance of the Liberals in the legislature, the new leader and the lifting of COVID-19 restrictions to permit gatherings have contributed to a family reunion atmosphere at the convention, he said.

"We are focused on the next step and the next step is to become government,'' Halford said. "We've got a very, very energized group right now that's seen the massive cracks that are showing in this NDP government.''

Falcon is scheduled to address the convention on Sunday.

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