The B.C. Liberal caucus spent some time as a group this week in Nanaimo, a place that could become pretty important in provincial politics in the months ahead.
B.C. Liberal leader Andrew Wilkinson and party MLAs were in Nanaimo on Wednesday and Thursday, July 25-26, with an event at the Nanaimo Hornets rugby club last night and then a meeting and a tour of local businesses and agencies today.
“We [were] going through a whole bunch of issues we have to deal with, and it’s also an opportunity for our team of 42 people to get a much better handle on the Hub City and have a chance to look around and see what’s going on here and there’s an awful lot going on here,” Wilkinson said.
The Liberal leader said his party is “well aware” of recent developments in Nanaimo municipal politics, with NDP MLA Leonard Krog announcing a mayoral run that could potentially lead to a provincial government byelection in the winter.
“We’re … watching with great interest and we’ll see what the voters of Nanaimo have to say on Oct. 20 and we’ll be ready for any eventuality,” Wilkinson said.
Considering the stakes of a byelection in a closely split B.C. legislature, Wilkinson was asked whether the Liberals would consider parachuting in a star candidate and he suggested “Leader says no to parachutes” as a headline.
“It’s very important to recognize that local issues drive things on the mid Island,” Wilkinson said. “Nanaimo is a special situation because it’s the hub for the mid Island. It services the entire Island north of the Malahat and so whoever’s going to be running for any party in Nanaimo has to have an intimate knowledge of the issues and I would expect good, strong, local candidates to come forward in any byelection.”
Before that, the Liberals have other areas of focus. Wilkinson said the party is getting ready for September’s Union of B.C. Municipalities convention, which he said is a good opportunity to meet with mayors and councillors and find ways to try to help in various communities.
As the NDP reaches one year in government, Wilkinson said that party hasn’t delivered on affordability, bringing in “a whole wave of new taxes.” He said a just-announced labour agreement on public projects benefits the NDP’s union supporters, while the speculation tax applies only in certain communities, creating the perception of favouritism.
“It’s very important for any government in this province to govern for all British Columbians, no matter where they live, no matter who they are or what they do, so that everybody has a chance to get ahead,” Wilkinson said. “We’re seeing a government with John Horgan and the NDP that is picking winners and losers, and that is just fundamentally wrong.”