B.C. Liberal Party leadership candidates include Todd Stone, left, Andrew Wilkinson, Dianne Watts, Michael Lee, Sam Sullivan and Mike de Jong. (The News Bulletin)

Editorial: B.C. Liberals look to Island

The B.C. Liberal Party isn’t sure it got its message across on the Island in the last election

The B.C. Liberal Party isn’t sure it got its message across on Vancouver Island in the last election, and hopes to atone.

The party held a leadership debate at Nanaimo’s Vancouver Island Conference Centre on Sunday. It was the third of six debates around British Columbia – the first two were in Surrey and Prince George, respectively – as the party looks to engage different parts of the province in its leadership race.

Nanaimo was an interesting choice as a debate location, as Vancouver Island isn’t a home base for the Liberals. Michelle Stilwell, Parksville-Qualicum MLA, is the party’s only Vancouver Island representative in the legislature.

Several candidates spoke frankly about the B.C. Liberals’ shortcomings on Vancouver Island in the last election. In a vote that was so closely split, any riding that swung one way or another could be considered a difference maker, so the Island proved as critical as any region. A couple of candidates criticized the party’s Vancouver Island platform, released during last spring’s campaign, as underwhelming. Stilwell told the News Bulletin after Sunday’s debate that Vancouver Island sometimes seems to get forgotten by government and her party.

While the Liberals were strong throughout rural B.C., candidates acknowledged a poor showing in urban ridings and on the Island and suggested that the party must broaden its appeal to turn around election outcomes.

Elections almost always come down to voters’ views of the economy, and B.C.’s was chugging along nicely going into the last election. But voters will always have a micro view, not a macro view, and need to believe that the economy is working for them and their communities.

Leadership candidates talked a lot about reconnecting with people, and a grassroots movement. Whoever is the next leader of the B.C. Liberal Party will need to do those things on the Island and everywhere else.

Elections have a way of underlining how British Columbians are divided. And while we do have a lot in common, parties will need to recognize the ways that Vancouver Island is the same as other places, and yet different.

Get local stories you won't find anywhere else right to your inbox.
Sign up here

Just Posted

Iconic white raven spotted in area north of Nanaimo

Photographer John Domovich spotted rare bird on June 3 in Whiskey Creek area

South Wellington community association hopes to save old school from demolition

Nanaimo school district staff to report on fate of South Wellington Elementary later this month

Black Lives solidarity demonstration fills Nanaimo park

Anti-racism protest held at Maffeo Sutton Park on Friday afternoon

Nanaimo RCMP seek help locating missing indigenous youth

Family of William Baker worries he’s in company of people putting him at risk

Nanaimo man wanted on assault warrants

John Bates wanted following two separate incidents from earlier this year

Trudeau offers $14B to provinces for anti-COVID-19 efforts through rest of year

Making a difference in municipalities is a pricey proposition

Friends, family mourn Salt Spring Island woman killed in suspected murder-suicide

A GoFundMe comapaign has been launched for Jennifer Quesnel’s three sons

‘I’m pissed, I’m outraged’: Federal minister calls out police violence against Indigenous people

Indigenous Minister Marc Miller spoke on recent incidents, including fatal shooting of a B.C. woman

Indigenous families say their loved ones’ deaths in custody are part of pattern

Nora Martin joins other Indigenous families in calling for a significant shift in policing

Facing changes together: Your community, your journalists

The COVID-19 pandemic has changed the world in ways that would have… Continue reading

‘Alarmed’: Health critic calls for more data on COVID-19 in trucking industry

Saskatchewan, Ontario and Quebec said that level of detail is not being collected

UPDATED: Pair accused of ‘horrific’ assault at Vancouver’s Oppenheimer Park arrested

Police say Jason Tapp, 30, and Nicole Edwards, 33, did not show up to meet their bail supervisor this week

Kelowna Mountie who punched suspect identified, condemned by sister

‘How did he get away with this? How is this justifiable?’

PHOTOS: Anti-racism protesters gather in communities across B.C.

More protests are expected through the weekend

Most Read