B.C. Liberals facing 'opportunity for renewal' - McIntyre 

MLA waiting for field of leadership candidates to be finalized


Sea to Sky's Liberal representative said this week that her party is getting an "opportunity for renewal" in light of Premier Gordon Campbell's resignation.

Joan McIntyre, the MLA for West Vancouver-Sea to Sky, which includes West Vancouver, Squamish, Whistler and Pemberton, said in a Thursday interview that the government is enduring a period of transition and that she's excited for what's to come.

"The Premier has certainly provided incredible leadership over his 17 years of public service," she said. "I think he quite correctly, you know, read the tea leaves is the right phrase. But I think he fully understood, as he said, it's becoming much more about personality rather than policy, so I think he's done the right thing.

"I'm actually very excited about the whole opportunity for renewal."

The general public can be forgiven for seeing their government as falling into chaos. Both the Liberals and the NDP have seen prominent members come out publicly against their leaders, an occurrence that's been rare in Gordon Campbell's tenure as Premier of British Columbia.

On the Liberal side, former energy minister and Kootenay East MLA Bill Bennett was booted from caucus after saying Campbell should resign his position now, rather than wait until after a leadership convention.

Once ousted, he unleashed a torrent of criticism at the Premier, calling him a bully and saying that his caucus was suffering "battered wife syndrome."

On the opposition side, the New Democratic Party has seen a small-scale revolt against its leader, Victoria-Beacon Hill MLA Carole James. On Nov. 19 her caucus whip, Kootenay West MLA Katrine Conroy, resigned her position and then held a press conference backed by MLAs Jenny Kwan, Claire Trevena and Lana Popham.

The next day James faced a leadership vote in which 84 per cent of delegates voted to keep her in the job instead of make her face a leadership convention.

In recent days the race to become leader of the Liberal Party has gotten interesting, with MLAs Moira Stilwell, George Abbott and Kevin Falcon declaring their candidacies.

Asked where the consternation in government began, McIntyre said there were two factors that led to Campbell's resignation and the current situation.

"I go back to the HST issue," she said. "Clearly, and again I've said this in media and I apologize, we totally caught the public off guard on this issue. In the same breath, we had fully underestimated, we lost connection there with the voter, and the extent of the backlash too.

"Especially with the success of the HST petition, it was very clear by August or September that the public had clearly expressed their dissatisfaction with the way it was handled."

Asked who she'll support in the leadership race, McIntyre was non-committal.

"I'm going to look and see how this all unfolds," she said. "I know they were saying in the media this should happen fairly soon, the vote is on Feb. 26. I think we'll see in the next little while, the group, and we'll go from there."

Not everyone, however, feels that the Liberals are facing a time of renewal. Lyle Fenton, a Squamish resident and former NDP candidate in the now-renamed riding of West Vancouver-Garibaldi, said he has very little hope for change among the B.C. Liberals.

"I don't know what she means by renewal," he said in an interview. "Their policies aren't going to change, I don't believe, so maybe they'll change some faces, as a Premier. I don't see them changing directions as far as policies go."



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