The time is right for the BC Conservatives said Dan Brooks, leader of the provincial party, as he stopped in the Cowichan Valley last week as part of an Island-wide tour.
People want an alternative to the Liberals and the NDP, he said, both of whom have stopped serving the people of the province, and the Conservatives offer the balance that people are looking for.
"We have huge potential," he said of the province, and he believes his party is the one to lead B.C. into a prosperous future.
The BC Conservatives, not to be confused with the federal party, with whom they are not directly affiliated, cropped up in the run-up to the last provincial election in 2013.
The results were not what the party wanted, Brooks admitted, with no hopefuls taking seats, but times have changed.
The NDP have been in decline since that election, which they thought they would win, Brooks said, and are suffering an identity crisis.
"That identity crisis is going to continue to weaken them for the long term," he said. "They’re split between whether they represent jobs or the environment, do they represent public sector workers or do they represent private sector employees?" In the last election the threat of the NDP taking power was enough to make people afraid to split the vote and the Conservatives lost out as fear drove people to vote Liberal, Brooks said.
"The reason that BC Conservatives haven’t been successful to this date is because people have been voting for the lesser of two evils," he said.
With the NDP a non-factor, he said, that problem no longer exists.
Brooks said his party is about grassroots democracy.
"I’m here to listen," he said. "The Liberals have stopped listening to the people."
The Liberals are beholden to big corporations, Brooks said, while the NDP is beholden to unions, and the public gets lost in the shuffle.
On Vancouver Island, Brooks said he’s hearing a lot of dissatisfaction with how BC Ferries is being run.
"It’s getting a little ridiculous," he said.
With $90 million in net earnings, well outstripping last year, and half of it coming from a fuel surcharge, "why do we still need it?" Brooks questioned.
"It’s really a tax gouge and it’s totally unacceptable, and it’s time to turf it," he said.
People are ready for a common sense party, Brooks said, and that is the BC Conservatives.
They are not tied up in ideological struggles, like the one that led to the teachers’ strike in the fall, which Brooks attributes to the Liberals’ focus on trying to destroy the teachers’ union at all costs.
The BC Conservatives believe in striking a balance between resource development and the environment, he said. They are also championing getting rid of the patronage appointments of which they say the Liberals are guilty.
"We don’t want to go to one extreme or the other," Brooks said. "Choosing between the NDP and the Liberals isn’t a choice, it’s a punishment. [British Columbians] want something that is going to give them a positive alternative."