Prime Time Crime
(Published in the Abbotsford News week of Aug. 29, 2004)
Fall Wedding of Conservative & Unity Parties
It may not exactly be a match made in heaven, but the autumnal wedding of the BC Unity Party with what remains of a provincial Conservative Party warrants some attention, as well as some consideration by BC voters.
After three years of frustration as a fourth-party also-ran, Unity leader Chris Delaney bit the bullet this week, to announce that agreement had been reached with the PCs to seek to pull together the parties, along with the dregs of the moribund BC Reform Party, and even a few diehard Social Crediters, to present a third prime option.
Labelled as the BC Alternative to the seesaw politics of the past decade between the Liberals and the NDP, the new party (likely to retain the name BC Conservative Party) will hold a founding convention on Sept. 25th at the Executive Inn in Coquitlam, and it will be absolutely fascinating to see who shows up.
We can expect the likes of former Socred premier Bill Vander Zalm to be there, of course, who never met a microphone he didn't want to seduce. And no doubt, well hear from the unlamented Ron Gamble, who was one of the founders of the BC Reform Party, and who still clings to the belief that what he has to say is relevant. Its not.
The real interest, though, will be among the current Members of Parliament from the federal Conservatives, as well as some who ran but did not get elected in Junes national election. Could Abbotsford MP Randy White, for example, resign from the Ottawa merry-go-round to get involved with the provincial set? Speculation such as that will abound as the new party seeks to make some kind of impact in time for next Mays provincial vote.
Mr. Delaney spelled out more than a dozen reasons why his views, and that of Unity/Conservative must not be considered in lockstep with the Liberals of Premier Gordon Campbell. He decried the fact that ferry-building contracts were going to Europe rather than staying here in BC, and he denounced the wholesale sell-off of public assets like a liquidation sale such as the BC Rail fiasco.
His bottom line, naturally, was that until this moment, the only alternative was to return an NDP government, where could end up revisiting the disastrous policies hurt BC so dearly in the past.
Mr. Delaney says the BC Conservative Party would have five guiding principles:
1. BC First - serving BC and its citizens ahead of all other interests, including big corporations, big labour, or the federal government.
2. Free Enterprise/Fiscally Responsible - The party believes in private enterprise and fiscal responsibility as the cornerstones of wealth creation and prosperity.
3. Social Conscience It believes in a government that has compassion for the truly needy in society, including the disabled, the dispossessed, the sick and the elderly.
4. Democratic Accountability and Reform Substantial reform of the political system is required to create political accountability and democratic renewal in BC.
5. Inclusive The new party will respect and welcome all people from every background, and (will) seek to find common ground on important social and political issues.
If some of this sounds somewhat familiar, chances are that you are over the age of 50 or so, or have studied BC history, because to me, it all sounds remarkably like the early days of the provinces first Socred Premier, W.A.C. Bennett. Now, if there are four or more Liberal MLAs of that vintage who admire such principles, things could get reeaaalllly interesting, couldnt they?
Veteran B.C. journalist/broadcaster John Pifer may be reached at email@example.com.