KAMLOOPS — Candidates for the leadership of the BC Liberal party held their first debate Sunday afternoon, competing to see who could apologize the most for losing this year’s election.
It’s a strange thing, listening to BC Liberals apologize.
Former Surrey mayor Dianne Watts, who has spent the last couple of years in Ottawa as a Conservative MP and wasn’t around for the election, was one of the most strident apologists, dwelling on the number of seats the BC party lost.
“We lost them because we didn’t listen,” she said. “We need to come together with a new vision, new ideas.”
That’s the central theme of this leadership race — convincing people the party can change its stripes. As fellow candidate Michael Lee put it, it’s about rebuilding trust. And favourite son Todd Stone has adopted the same approach, saying again Sunday that the party made mistakes last May.
Mike de Jong, on the other hand, makes no apologies for being a free enterpriser, believing that the main job of the provincial government is to support business. It makes him stand out from the leadership hopefuls but whether it will resonate with party faithful remains to be seen.
There’s an impression of desperation hovering around the BC Liberals right now. They’re uncomfortable in the role of opposition after 16 years in charge, and it shows.
They’re in a hurry to distance themselves from the days of Gordon Campbell and Christy Clark — especially the latter, as if she alone is responsible for their predicament, as if these wanna-be’s are new on the scene.
Where was this new vision, where were these new ideas, six months ago? Why, while in government, didn’t they listen?
Why, only now that they’ve been unseated by the dastardly NDP, are they suddenly once again the party of the people?
Because they’ve seen the light, or because they have no choice?
So far, this big apology isn’t convincing.
I’m Mel Rothenburger, the Armchair Mayor.