Keeping the free-enterprise vote firmly in B.C. Liberal hands is a big topic of discussion at the party's weekend convention in Whistler, a member of the party faithful said Friday.
Which is why Emile Scheffel is thrilled thousands people from all walks of life took part in what has been dubbed "Free Enterprise Friday" on the convention's opening day.
"The only time the NDP wins (an election) is when the free enterprise vote is fractured," he said during a phone interview from Whistler.
He said recent byelection victories for the New Democrats in Chilliwack-Hope and Port Moody-Coquitlam showed the danger of splitting that vote. This convention will change that.
Scheffel, a member of the Young Liberals, said people had the opportunity to brainstorm ideas before everyone was invited to attend an open-microphone session and share ideas.
Many of those who spoke were former Conservatives or people who had left the Liberals only to return to fold. Scheffel said this bodes well.
"People who left the party are welcome to come back in. The party is listening," he said.
Former Conservative John Martin, who quit the Conservatives and joined the Liberals after losing last April's Chilliwack-Hope byelection, treated the Liberals to a confession-like speech.
Martin reiterated Scheffel's point, telling the Liberals he learned the hard lesson that comes with splitting the free enterprise vote.
"Two important lessons came out of that byelection," said Martin. "The first is that when the non-NDP vote is pursued by more than one party, the NDP wins."
Federal Conservative stalwarts Stockwell Day and Gerry St. Germain told the delegates free enterprise British Columbians must unite under Clark to keep the New Democrats from office.
"The socialist hordes, my friends, are at the gates," said St. Germain, a retired senator. "We've got to keep these socialists outside the gates and show them where they belong because every time they enter into the gates they take us to have-not status."
The convention continues Saturday.