Former Vancouver Mayor Sam Sullivan believes he is the right person to return the BC Liberals as the governing party and solve some of the province’s most pressing issues.
Sullivan, who was re-elected as the MLA for the Vancouver-False Creek riding in the recent provincial election, officially announced his candidacy for party leadership today. This makes him the first person to throw their hat into the ring in the leadership race.
In a pre-recorded statement, he set himself apart from the policies of the former Christy Clark government and vowed to reconnect the party with urban voters, as it did during the Gordon Campbell era.
“We’re on the right track in rural British Columbia, but we also need a strong urban and innovation agenda to show younger voters we are the party of the future,” said Sullivan.
On the top of his list is tackling housing affordability, by creating new policies that require municipalities to densify, and ending the deadly opioid crisis. He says these were his priorities during his term as Vancouver’s mayor from 2005 to 2008.
“Today, house prices and overdose deaths are higher than ever. As leader, I will modernize city government so that cities no longer prevent housing but create housing and add hundreds of homes for rental, now empty because of strata rules,” he said.
“I’ll end the overdose crisis so no one with an addiction will have to turn to dangerous street drugs. This will reduce gun violence, homelessness, prostitution by victimized women, and free up emergency rooms for you.”
Sullivan acknowledged that Canada’s HST model, abandoned by the Clark government through a plebiscite, is universally endorsed by economists around the world.
He is proposing to introduce MST – a Modified Sales Tax that “has all the advantages of HST but exempts some goods and services for low income people.”
Other platform ideas in his campaign include modernizing healthcare so that is modelled after highly rated systems in Germany and France, allowing researchers and health services planners to access medical data, creating a more innovative public education system, reforming BC’s liquor policies even further, and creating efficiencies between fire, police, and ambulance services.
More candidacy announcements are expected in the coming days and weeks.
Dianne Watts, the former Mayor of Surrey, is expected to formalize her leadership bid during an event in Surrey on Sunday, which will prompt her to resign from her position as the federal Conservative MP for South Surrey.
Former Clark government ministers Todd Stone, Mike Bernier, Mike de Jong, and Andrew Wilkinson are also said to be considering a run for the leadership.
The first leadership debate is scheduled for October 15, and party members are slated to vote for their new leader in early-February.