Wednesday November 16, 2022 | VICTORIA, BC [Updated November 17, 2022]
by Mary P Brooke | Island Social Trends
BC United will be the new name of the current BC Liberal Party if party leader Kevin Falcon sees the success that he hopes for at a convention in January 2023.
Today Falcon told media that 80% of the current 8,000-member party voted in favour of BC United as their top pick for a new name for the current BC Liberal Party. The online vote began Sunday November 13 and concluded at 10 pm on Tuesday November 15.
“We’ve gone through a really robust process that I’m really proud of, that has really engaged the membership,” said Falcon today in media session in Victoria (available via Zoom).
The final vote (constitutional ratification) to accept the new name would require 75% of those who attend the next party convention.
The timing of any eventual party name change would have to strategic, Falcon said, as in working around the date of the next provincial election.
He has mentioned over the past months that a name change is part of an overall renewal process for the party, which arguably seems to have lost its way — or more specifically — has lost touch with the broader needs of British Columbians.
That narrow vision (which oddly is presented as broad) continues in Falcon’s repeated intro in his last couple of speeches that the BC Liberals welcome everyone regardless of “who they love or what God they worship”. The BC Liberal messaging never articulates the economic needs of the broadest range of people in the province, but still relies on 1980s-style trickle-down economics by which the financial benefits of business are expected to benefit workers and low-income people in turn, but rarely does.
Trajectory to the top:
Falcon was sworn in as Leader of the Official Opposition at the BC Legislature exactly six months ago, on May 16, 2022 (having won a by-election April 30, 2022 to have a seat in the legislature).
He got right down to work on the party name change (something under discussion during his party leadership campaign in 2021 leading to his February 5, 2022 election by party members as their new leader).
Falcon said today that he “doesn’t trust David Eby” to keep to the current election schedule in which October 19, 2024 is the next election date. “They will call (the election) when they think it will benefit David Eby, not the public,” said Falcon today about the current NDP government.
“We’ll be smart when we make that decision,” said Falcon.
Rebranding a new name for the party would cost money and take time. Falcon said he will “support the new name with resources” but that “people shouldn’t read too much into this”, saying the party goals would be the same.
BC United has been registered with Elections BC, and the party will retain registration of the BC Liberal name, and all associated domains, to avoid any other party obtaining its use.
Reminding the public:
As rebranding takes place, it will be up to the NDP to remind the public about BC Liberal track record.
In the 16 years leading up to the 2017 change in government to NDP leadership, the BC Liberals made significant cuts to schools and hospitals, as well as mental health supports. And among other things, the cost of ICBC vehicle insurance coverage and medical service plan premiums were a burden on many British Columbians.
For Falcon, part of changing the political party name is about creating a ‘big tent’ (a phrase that goes back to Reaganism in the 1980s in the USA) that includes as many people as possible, including attracting new party members who might not agree with everything about the party but that “there’s enough there” that people will switch or get behind the current BC Liberals. That’s his (vote count) strategy for winning the next election, he told media today.
He’ll be up against the incredibly robust and deeply-rooted NDP ground game that has flourished in BC for nearly two decades.
Replying to media about evident factions in the BC Liberal Party, Falcon says he politics are “not about left or right” but “it’s about doing the right thing”. He cited, as an example, the situation of homeless people in BC as an example of what he would do differently.
Falcon stated that BC has to date “failed as a a society for those that are most vulnerable”, even though the current NDP government has made a significant investment in hotels-as-housing, mental health supports and other initiatives.
Kevin Falcon’s party base is in Vancouver, as it is for Premier-(designate) David Eby.
This will see a shift in emphasis from the Vancouver Island base that has been nurtured over the years by now outgoing NDP Premier John Horgan and his team, into a stronghold on Vancouver Island.
Eby will be sworn in as Premier on November 18, 2022… just two days from now in a ceremony at a local community centre in Vancouver.
===== ABOUT THE WRITER:
Mary P Brooke is the editor of Island Social Trends. She has been reporting on news of the Capital Region west shore and south Vancouver Island since 2008, with a socioeconomic lens on communities, business, politics and education.
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