BC Liberals approve process for selecting a new party name

Jun 12 2022, 1:31 am

The change of the party name is one of the first major steps newly elected party leader Kevin Falcon is making to reorganize the BC Liberals.

During the party’s convention today, held in Penticton, the delegates in attendance approved Falcon’s proposal to move forward with a name change process, and begin consultation with the wider party membership.

“A party of members with diverse backgrounds and perspectives is a better and stronger party. The party’s name must be one that reflects a diverse and inclusive big-tent coalition,” said Falcon.

“When I announced my candidacy for the party leadership, I made it clear that as part of a wider renewal process, I would seek input from the party membership on the possibility of changing the party name. The vote today provides permission for the party to explore potential alternatives.”

The consultation process immediately began today with the launch of an online survey. The party executive will establish a name change committee with a mandate to set the final timelines and consultation process.

Every party member will have the opportunity to vote on a new proposed name or keep the current BC Liberals name by the end of 2022.

A name change was a key platform promise made by Falcon earlier this year when he was running in the party’s internal race to select a new party leader. He believes changing the name, along with various other external and internal reforms, will put the party in a better position to reclaim its hold of the provincial government. The next provincial general election is expected to be held on or before October 19, 2024.

The BC Liberals held a majority government between 2001 and 2017. While they won a minority government under Christy Clark’s leadership in 2017, a coalition government-like agreement between the BC NDP and the BC Greens ended the BC Liberals’ long, uninterrupted run as the governing party. In the October 2020 election, the BC NDP upgraded their minority status to a majority government, with the BC Liberals ending up with their lowest seat count in three decades.

Unlike the formal affiliation between the BC NDP and the federal NDP, the BC Liberals are not affiliated with the federal Liberal Party of Canada, currently led by Justin Trudeau. In 1987, the BC Liberals ended their formal affiliation with the federal Liberals. The BC Liberals see themselves as a big tent of federal Liberals and Conservatives.

The party previously twice considered changing its name — in 1996 and 2013. Both times, the primary goal was to end the confusion that the party was affiliated with the federal Liberals. In 2013, the idea was rejected by party members as they were still winning elections at the time. “Who would change their brand when it’s succeeded in dominating the market?” asked then party leader and premier Christy Clark.

Last month, Falcon won the by-election for the riding of Vancouver-Quilchena, providing him with a seat in government as the head of the opposition. Andrew Wilkinson, the former party leader, stepped down as MLA for the riding in February to provide Falcon with the opportunity.

With files from Rob Shaw.

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