B.C. Liberals mull name change, HST tweak
There has been plenty of speculation voters in B.C. could be heading back to the polls later this year to elect a new provincial government.
However, the two local Liberal MLAs in the Kamloops area won’t say whether they want to be back on the campaign trail earlier than expected.
Kamloops-North Thompson MLA and Environment Minister Terry Lake said he won’t comment on a possible fall election, other than adding it’s the premier’s prerogative to call one.
He did suggest the party needs to consider voter fatigue, pointing to this month’s recent federal election, this summer’s harmonized sales-tax referendum and this fall’s civic elections.
“I certainly would leave the lead of those discussion to the premier,” Lake told KTW.
At the B.C. Liberal convention in Penticton on the weekend, Premier Christy Clark announced she had formed an election-readiness team, but an election isn’t likely until after the HST referendum this summer.
The next election isn’t scheduled until 2013 as part of the province’s fixed-election date law.
Kamloops-South Thompson MLA Kevin Krueger wasn’t offering up much on the possibility of an early vote.
He said an election this year is possible, adding he understands why the premier wants the public to give her a mandate.
However, when asked directly whether he supports a fall election, Krueger called himself a “team player” and said he would do whatever the party decides.
The two MLAs also have similar views on a pair of other topics that came up at the party’s convention.
Lake and Krueger said they support having a discussion on changing the party’s name.
The party has always considered itself a coalition of people who support the federal Liberal and Conservative parties.
Lake said as a Liberal, he’s “torn” on the issue, but added he is willing to listen to arguments if a change will strengthen the coalition.
“I think we’ve overcome in many ways the image that we are just Liberals, that we are in fact a coalition,” he said.
Krueger said the party had a similar discussion while in opposition, but decided against the idea to avoid upsetting longtime party members.
However, he said, the name continues to be an issue for Conservative members of the party.
Krueger said he will carry on with the party, under the Liberal banner or another monicker.
Another issue from the convention speaks to winds of change enveloping the party.
According to the Globe and Mail, Clark has indicated the party will not shield incumbents from nomination challenges.
Lake noted there has been a tacit agreement in the past giving a sitting MLA the inside track on a nomination.
But, he added, it has never been a guarantee.
Lake said discussions on the issue need to be held among riding associations.
The first-term MLA said Clark has a leadership style different from her predecessor, Gordon Campbell, noting it is Clark’s decision as to whether she wants to lead the discussion.
Krueger said the party hasn’t had formal incumbency protection in the past and won’t need it in the future.
“I think the people who want to pursue a B.C. Liberal nomination are going to be able to find a constituency to do it in without trying to take the nomination from an incumbent MLA,” he said, noting challenges to sitting MLAs is rare.