Liberals organizing convention in Whistler 

Party prepares for May 2013 provincial election

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Whistler is going to be B.C. Liberal Party central for two days in October.

The governing political party in B.C. is holding its biannual open convention Oct. 26 and 27 at the Fairmont Chateau Whistler. Premier Christy Clark will deliver a keynote address at the end of the convention.

The agenda for the two-day convention includes a reception hosted by the premier on Thursday, Oct. 25, followed by party business sessions, the annual general meeting of the B.C. Young Liberals, policy debates, policy discussions, an election campaign overview, a cabinet accountability session and an election campaign training session.

The convention comes on the heels of 14 current Liberal MLAs announcing they will not seek re-election in the next provincial vote. The list of outgoing respresentatives includes current West Vancouver–Sea to Sky MLA Joan McIntyre. The list of MLAs who won't be looking for another term includes former cabinet ministers Colin Hansen, Kevin Falcon, George Abbott and Blair Lekstrom.

Ben Stewart, the MLA for Westside-Kelowna, is a co-chair of the convention. He expects at least 700 people to attend. Stewart added that those who don't come to Whistler could watch the convention events through a live streaming Internet feed. In addition, Stewart said there will be convention updates through a Twitter feed.

Average British Columbians with Liberal Party memberships will be there along with the elected officials, he added.

Stewart said the convention delegates are people who want to be able to talk to their MLA and the party leader about party policies. Those discussions will form part of the party's election platform.

"This convention is about unification of points of view and making certain that everyone is prepared for the upcoming May 2013 election," Stewart said.

With news outlets across the province focused on internal struggles inside both the Liberal Party and the B.C. Conservative Party Stewart acknowledged that the Conservative Party is an alternative to the B.C. Liberals for those who support right of centre political values. Recent opinion polls have shown declining support for both the Liberals and the Conservatives while the same polls have indicated the NDP under the leadership of Adrian Dix is currently the most popular political party in B.C.

"If we need to make changes that are fundamental to some of those different groups that have chosen to be outside of the B.C. Liberal Party we would like them to think there is a place for them inside the B.C. Liberal tent," said Stewart.

He came to the B.C. Liberal Party through the federal conservatives and he noted that many others took the same route while still others have supported the Green Party in the past.

"We have a very big coalition," said Stewart. "Not everybody agrees all the time but at the end of the day by having these types of discussions we have a fair and open debate and that's how we try and be inclusive in that so we do the right things for the province."

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