The BC Liberals need to take a different tack if they want to win the next provincial election, says leadership candidate Val Litwin.
“The B.C. Liberal Party is going to have to change its approach if it wants to win in 2024,” he said during a stop in Prince George Thursday. “The B.C. Liberal Party is a proud party with an inspiring history, but now we’re out of date … The pro-business, pro-economy pitch of the B.C. Liberal Party, now, doesn’t win an election. We have to be talking about people now.”
So what does that entail?
“My pitch to British Columbians is the B.C. Liberal Party, if it chooses, could become Canada’s truly fiscally-responsible, socially-conscious party,” he said. “That’s what I think it will take to in 2024. That’s what it will take to attract a younger, more diverse group of people to the party.”
He said 61 per cent of the population in B.C. is under 40 years old and the party, if it wants to win, has to reflect the reflects the values and priorities of that demographic.
“Not just young people, but people all over the province are saying they believe in fiscal responsibility, ‘don’t put me and my kids into generational debt, but please can we make progress now on affordable housing, on climate change, the opioid crisis,’” he said.
He said the BC Liberals are positioned to be the party that can create a strong, vibrant, inclusive economy, something he doesn’t believe the BC NDP can do.
“I know this when I saw it up close,” he said, referring to his tenure as president of the B.C. Chamber of Commerce, which entailed working closely with the government and its ministers. “I sat on the premier’s economic recovery task force for the first 10 months of COVID,” he said. “There were only nine of us, representing the entire province … all regions, all sectors, all peoples. In my humble opinion, we never had a meaningful conversation about what it would take to truly recover here in B.C.”
Prior to being the president of the B.C. Chamber, Litwin was the CEO of the Whistler Chamber of Commerce, so the provincial political scene, and being political, isn’t new to him. In fact, he says, much of the work entails the same processes.
“For the last 10 years I’ve been in the political arena, I just haven’t been a partisan, but this is the exact same job,” he said. “I’m travelling B.C., I’m walking main streets, I’m talking to young people, I’m finding out where the opportunities and roadblocks are. I’m building a platform based on what I’m hearing and also the vision I have for the future of B.C.”
The biggest challenge facing all governments over the past year has been the pandemic. Litwin gives the province has done a good job on tackling the pandemic itself, however work needs to be done in other areas.
“From a health and safety standpoint, I think B.C. has done really well, but I’m concerned about the lack of transparency that we’re coming to understand around numbers and reporting,” he said. “I think it hampers people’s and communities’ abilities to make quality decisions. What I’m not very impressed with is how we’ve approached the task of economic recovery.”
Here in the North, where forestry is a large part of the economy, Litwin says a long-term plan is what is needed.
“We need to build that medium- to long-term strategy that says ‘we are going to be a jurisdiction that continues to harvest sustainably the lowest carbon footprint building material that we know of in the world right now,” he said. “B.C. should be a supplier of timber products to the world, especially now with the U.N. high-carbon tariffs.”
He said the forest sector should be about value, not volume. When asked about the debate, and protests, over logging in old growth forests, namely the Fairy Creek watershed, Litwin says it highlights the need for a long-term strategy for the forests.
Litwin also built, grew and sold an international busines and he’s worked was the vice-president of operations of Nurse Next Door.
“My career is a story of always where the business community and people meet,” he said. “I get balance sheets, but I understand the power of communities.”
Litwin has been touring the North over the past week with stops in Prince Rupert, Terrace, Kitimat, Quesnel and Prince George. He will be the Twisted Cork tonight from 5-7 p.m. You can register at:
BC Liberals will choose a new leader in February. Litwin is up against current MLAs Michael Lee, Renee Merriweather, and Ellis Ross, former MLA and cabinet minister Kevin Falcon, and Vancouver businessman Gavin Dew.