Brooks Leads BC Conservatives into 2017 Election
Prince George, B.C. – The B.C. Conservative Party will be led into the 2017 British Columbia general election by Dan Brooks of Vanderhoof.
The party elected Brooks its leader Saturday afternoon in Prince George. The 41-year-old Brooks edged out Kelowna financial advisor Konrad Pimiskern with 52.1% of the vote to 47.9%. There were 2200 party members who were eligible to vote, either at the leadership convention or through a mail-in ballot. Election Officer Joan Robinson indicated that 472 votes were cast.
Results were to have been released at about 1:30 Saturday afternoon, however that was delayed by about 60 minutes. Then, because the first count was so close a recount was ordered by Robinson, and that took another 80 minutes.
The third candidate in the leadership race was Jay Cross, a researcher and statistical analyst from Vancouver.
In his victory speech Brooks, who had been elected leader of the party in 2014 before stepping down in January this year, told the delegates “it is really humbling, folks, to be here a second time. You don’t get second chances in politics very often.” He says “I knew exactly what challenges lay ahead, I knew what I’d done wrong the first time and I kind of have a pretty idea of what I have to do this time.”
“The last time I think in my head I was the leader of a few thousand Conservatives, but this time it is my objective to be a leader of 4.6-million British Columbians. This province needs us, they need Conservative voices in the legislature. I want to make sure all British Columbians in 2017 have the opportunity to vote Conservative so that we are the ones in Victoria that are speaking on their behalf.”
Brooks says the number one priority is to nominate candidates to run in all 87 ridings and “we have 200 days to do it folks. We better get to work.”
Brooks said going into the 2017 election “we have to be thinking that we’re number one, that we are the first opportunity for British Columbians to make real change, we’re their first choice and not their last.”
Brooks says the Conservatives’ core value has to be re-examining crown corporations, “specifically that crown corporations should be re-purposed in this province. BC was built on great crown corporations like BC Hydro, BC Rail and BC Ferries, but somehow the BC Liberals and BC NDP have lost their way in understanding what the purpose of those crown corps is.”
“Now we have crown corporations whose entire purpose is to fill patronage seats for political appointees. They’re saddled with billions of dollars in debt, and they’re unprofitable. We have crown corporations that serve no purpose other than to essentially pad the Liberals friends’ pockets. Instead of using crown corporations as economic engines they’re turned them into political interference machines.” Brooks says the Conservatives will re-structure those corporations and sell the ones that need to be sold, “like BC Lotteries and BC Liquor.”
In an interview following his speech Brooks said the close leadership vote result means he will “reach out to everybody who supported the other candidates and make sure they feel a part of this party and a part of the solution to the problems BC faces in the next election.”
Asked about his priorities for the province Brooks says “we want to build a pipeline across British Columbia from the Rocky Mountains to the Pacific Ocean. It’s all about economic growth. We want to make sure this province is prosperous, and in order to achieve that how are we going to create those high-paying jobs that are going to give British Columbians the money they deserve and how are we going to help them to keep more of what they earn. So that’s the priority, it’s all about jobs and economic growth.”
On Site C Brooks says “well Site C is kind of a fait accompli, they’ve already put shovels in the ground. So site C is there, we’re certainly not going to reverse that decision, we’re going to continue with that project.”
The leader adds “I don’t agree with everything that BC Hydro has done. I think the BC Liberals have made a mess of BC Hydro, I certainly think that’s a huge problem. That’s what we are proposing to do as BC Conservatives, to go in and re-structure our crown corporations so they do what they’re supposed to do, which is to drive economic development. And one of the reasons why I’ve proposed the creation of a new crown corporation called the BC Energy Pipeline Corporation which will build that pipeline from the Rockies to the Pacific Coast.”
Brooks believes economic development resulting from a pipeline project will “cascade throughout our entire economy.” Asked about countering the widespread opposition of environmental groups and some First Nations to such a pipeline Brooks says “I’m not so much interested in countering their opposition as I am in working with those interested parties who share those same ideals. I think there are many First Nations in this province that do want to support and be a part of a pipeline to the coast and if they do we’re going to have those conversations with those First Nations.”
“I’m not going to bend to protest movements that are anti-development, that are designed essentially to set our province back economically. So I’m interested in who are the partners, especially First Nations, that are willing to work with us and building those relationships so that we can make this happen.”
Asked about the safety aspect of running a pipeline through remote, pristine wilderness Brooks says “I think the fundamental difference between what my proposal is and what Enbridge is doing (with Northern Gateway) is this pipeline is going to be owned by British Columbians and we have a vested interest in making sure that it is run safely. It’ll be run to the highest possible standards, it won’t be in the hands of a private corporation who bottom line is different from what British Columbians expect.”
“So that changes the dynamic here, plus we don’t have to go through the process of the National Energy Board because it’s entirely going to be built within BC, it’s entirely within our jurisdiction. So we avoid that entire bureaucratic mess and red tape.”
There are 8 months remaining until the 2017 provincial election. Brooks was asked whether the Conservatives have enough time to prepare for that vote. “There’s never enough time in politics to do what you want to do,” he says “but I believe that there are millions of British Columbians who support the concept of a pipeline to tide water, and they want to see that happen. This is what we’re running on, this is our plan for economic development in this province. I believe that they will start supporting our party, they will send us the funding we need, they will join our party and we will see a significant return of BC Conservatives to the legislature in 2017.”
Brooks believes the Conservatives have a great chance of winning seats in the coming election. “I think this is a historic opportunity. We haven’t had a Conservative elected to the legislature in almost 40 years, so I believe that, particularly here in the north in Prince George and Vanderhoof, Burns Lake, Houston, Mackenzie, these northern communities, we’re conservative by nature and now is our opportunity to make a real difference in British Columbia.” He believes his party will make a huge impact.
Brooks will be running in Nechako Lakes. “That’s my home, that’s my home.”