Peter Brown is one of British Columbia’s top captains of industry and a champion of free enterprise for a half-century. In the letter below, sent to the B.C. Conservative Party and provided to me by a source, Brown paints a bleak picture of the world economy and suggests the only local solution in British Columbia is to keep the NDP from taking office in the 2013 provincial election. Brown mentions the NDP three times, but not the B.C. Liberals or Premier Christy Clark.
“…we are in a very troubled global economic condition that is more serious and likely to be longer in duration than the normal relatively short term post war recessions and that will, in my opinion, impact on global growth, investment and job creation for some time to come. It is a time that responsible British Columbians need to get past their partisan beliefs to hopefully ensure that our politicians don’t add another level of uncertainty in an uncertain and economically dangerous world.”
Brown is obviously attempting to do his part to unite the right in B.C. But how can it work when every week brings another announcement of a B.C. Liberal leaving the fold? Why would John Cummins and his Tories want to board the sinking Liberal ship? On July 9, MLA Dave Hayer was the latest to announce he would disembark after the election. Hayer recognized former Premier Gordon Campbell in his announcement, but omitted his current manager, Premier Christy Clark.
Clark’s government is among the least-trusted in the country. Calls for a public inquiry into the BC Rail scandal intensified in June. The Liberals proceed stubbornly on a controversial and potentially tainted privatization of the Liquor Distribution Branch’s warehousing and distribution. Community Living B.C. chairman Denise Turner was given another three-year term on July 3, despite that Crown corporation being a controversy magnet.
(Note: Brown later issued a correction. The last paragraph of page 2 should read ‘expiry of the Bush tax cuts which could impact the US economy by over 3% of GDP’ not 30%.”)
UPDATE JULY 11: Brown’s missive was addressed to BC Conservative official Al Siebring and I wondered how Mr. Siebring reacted. He sent me the reply below to Brown’s letter, which is displayed in-full at bottom. The problem is not the Conservatives, Siebering concludes, it is the Liberals and their lack of leadership and policy direction.
My reaction Mr. Brown’s letter? First of all, he lays out an excellent case for fiscal conservatism; precisely the kind of positions that the BC Conservative Party is advocating. I find myself in agreement with much of his analysis with respect to macro-economics and political/governance philosophy. Where he loses me is with the line: “It is critical… that those who contribute to fragmentation of centre right vote come to realize that they are an unintended ally of the left.”
Left unsaid in that line, (but the intent is clear), is the notion that the BC Conservative Party is somehow responsible for the fragmentation. But I would assert that to the degree the centre right is being “fragmented”, it’s not the BC Conservative Party which is responsible for the problem. Rank and file voters who are inclined toward fiscal conservatism are growing increasingly disenchanted with the aimlessness and lack of true leadership that we have seen in the BC Liberal Party; it has become a movement that is seen to be advocating for legislative and policy directions which can no longer be considered “conservative” by any honest measure of the word.
I certainly appreciate Mr. Brown’s point that, from his perspective, the goal is to keep the NDP out of power. However, if we in the BC Conservatives were to fold our tent tomorrow, it’s clear the Liberals would lose the next election in any event. And as John Cummins has clearly said, even if the leadership of the BC Conservative Party were to accept the Liberals’ invitation to “crawl back into the tent”, our membership simply wouldn’t follow us. There are thousands of former Liberal supporters, myself included, who literally “stayed home” in the last Provincial election. These people are now being re-engaged with the emergence of a new, truly “centre-right” option which they can enthusiastically support.
Further, as illustrated by the most recent Angus Reid poll released this week, Mr. Brown might wish to ask himself how it is that the leader of the governing party in British Columbia – with all the attendant media attention that comes with that position – can be tied in voter approval with the virtually unknown leader of a “third-place” party?
Mr. Brown is a very intelligent man. I trust that over time, he will come to see that the BC Conservative Party is not the problem in BC’s “centre-right coalition.” The problem is the Liberals, both in terms of their present policy direction and their lack of credible leadership.
Thank you for your question.
Policy and Platform,
BC Conservative Party
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