A local MLA is taking a leadership role in ensuring her party’s election preparedness.
Michelle Stilwell, Parksville-Qualicum MLA, has been named chairwoman of the the B.C. Liberal Party’s new affordability and liveable communities committee.
The Liberals, after choosing Andrew Wilkinson as party leader in February, created four strategic planning caucus committees, the others being sustainable resources and the environment, education, and 21st-century economy.
“I’m not afraid to say we are describing this as the emergency platform committees,” said Wilkinson, speaking to the Greater Nanaimo Chamber of Commerce last week. “Because the concern is there could be an election in three days, three weeks, three months, three years and we’re not going to get caught with our pants down.”
Stilwell said “you always want to have a plan in place” for election preparedness. Now that the party has its new leader, Stilwell said it’s time to develop a new vision based around B.C. Liberal values.
The affordability committee had its first meeting this month. Joan Isaacs, MLA for Coquitlam-Burke Mountain, is deputy chairwoman and Stilwell said there is good representation from around the province. Both the MLA and the party leader suggested affordability is an important election-readiness consideration; Wilkinson said that discussion made a difference in last spring’s campaign.
“The NDP went to living rooms and said, ‘free bridge tolls, cheap childcare, renters’ subsidy, free student loans,’ and the public said, ‘that sounds great, we’ll get stuff for free,’” Wilkinson said.
Stilwell said the NDP “used slogans and those slogans were not actual plans,” but acknowledged her party had is missteps connecting with people.
“We were talking about debt-to-GDP and the economy and not the things that affect them on an everyday basis and I think that was something that we missed out on and we need to be able to relate better to the average British Columbian,” she said.
Her committee will have a wide-ranging mandate, as she said there are a lot of ways to look at affordability.
“Whether that is housing or childcare or taxes or gas prices, the list is endless, really,” said Stilwell.
Nanaimo MLA Leonard Krog said under Liberal governments, the rich got richer and middle-class families struggled. He said the B.C. Liberals’ affordability committee, to him, looks like politics, not principle.
“Nearly a year since the last election they’ve suddenly discovered that affordability and liveability are important issues for British Columbians…” Krog said. “This is about trying to re-shape the Liberal brand and they are trying to adopt NDP policies because they know that that’s actually what people want. The question is whether it’s sincere.”