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B.C. Liberals must rebuild party trust, says leadership candidate

Michael Lee brings message of inclusivity, unity to Vancouver Island campaign tour
Michael Lee, MLA for Vancouver-Langara and candidate for the B.C. Liberal Party leadership, stops at the Port Alberni waterfront during a tour of Vancouver Island, July 15, 2021. (SUSAN QUINN/ Alberni Valley News)

Provincial Liberal leadership candidate Michael Lee is on a B.C.-wide tour campaigning for trust and unity within the party.

Lee, MLA for Vancouver-Langara, was on a tour of central Vancouver Island last week, with stops in Victoria, Nanaimo, Parksville, Port Alberni, Courtenay and Comox. He was headed to the Okanagan this week with a number of meet-and-greets in Kelowna and Vernon.

“This is very much an opportunity to get out and listen and engage with our members and potential supporters, to find out what we need to rebuild the B.C. Liberal Party,” he said while at a lunch stop at Starboard Grill in Port Alberni. He met with half a dozen supporters in the central Island community before returning to the Comox Valley.

Shirley Bond was named interim Liberal leader in November 2020 after Andrew Wilkinson lost his seat in the October 2020 general election. Whoever wins the leadership convention on Feb. 5, 2022 will become the party leader. So far four other people besides Lee have declared their intent to run for leadership: Gavin Dew, a business person who ran in the 2016 by-election in Vancouver-Mount Pleasant; Kevin Falcon, former deputy premier and runner-up in the 2011 leadership election; Ellis Ross, MLA for Skeena and former Chief Councillor for Haisla Nation; and Val Litwin, CEO of the B.C. Chamber of Commerce.

“For me, the first thing we need is to build trust with our party. We need to be a more balanced and inclusive party. That’s why I’m going around the province,” he said.

Lee acknowledged that he has a few months to go before the B.C. Liberal leadership debates in September. He launched his leadership bid nearly six weeks ago—his second try for the party’s top provincial seat.

Lee was a new MLA when he ran for the leadership bid the first time, and says he has four years of experience behind him now. This latest tour he is learning about stewardship of land in B.C. and how people think they need to lower the carbon footprint. He has met with Indigenous leaders on Vancouver Island and around the province and said his knowledge of UNDRIP (United Nations’ Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples in Canada) will inform his relationships with First Nations in the province.

Lee said he is listening to people’s opinions on health care needs, especially those of seniors, as well as how people feel the province can compete for jobs and investment. He said he knows housing supply is a big concern in many areas.

He also said he sees potential in Port Alberni’s desire to redevelop its waterfront. “There’s a lot to offer here,” he said.

Lee said he will be back on Vancouver Island for another tour closer to the leadership debates.

Susie Quinn

About the Author: Susie Quinn

A journalist since 1987, I proudly serve as the Alberni Valley News editor.
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