The British Columbia Liberal party finds itself in an odd situation for the first time in 16 years—sitting in opposition while the NDP and Green parties hold a tenuous majority coalition in the provincial government.
BC Liberal leadership candidate Dianne Watts, who resigned her federal MP seat in order to run provincially, said Saturday during a meet-and-greet in Port Alberni that the Liberals lost the last election because they stopped listening. And because they stopped listening, the communities they were supposed to support lost their trust.
The BC Liberals stopped listening to the people that are tired of government off-loading; to the people whose forest sector jobs are threatened; to voters that are tired of platitudes, politicking and promises that politicians can’t or won’t keep.
They also stopped listening to themselves. The BC Liberals, outwardly anyway, give the impression they don’t know what they stand for anymore. They need to figure it out before February 2018, when the party elects its new leader, because that person will likely be the one to lead the limping party to the ballot boxes—sooner than later, we predict.
The BC Liberals will only get one shot at rebuilding their constituents’ trust, which marks this campaign among the toughest leadership races the party has seen in recent history.
One omission from Watts’ speech to party faithful in Port Alberni was any mention of First Nations issues. Odd, considering Port Alberni has two First Nations with unceded territory in the region, a regional district that includes representatives from several nations, and a total of five nations active within our city.
While she said later that she feels it’s a given that Indigenous Peoples are included in her vision for the Liberal party, that runs counter to many of the calls to action that came out of the Truth and Reconciliation Commission five years ago.
The TRC report calls for inclusivity, partnerships with and recognition of Aboriginal nations. This doesn’t mean fitting them into an already existing plan as an afterthought—it means purposeful dialogue.
It means listening.
— Alberni Valley News