Preaching a platform that puts rural residents and the economy at the forefront, the first candidate for leader of the B.C. Conservatives has tossed his name in the ring.
Dan Brooks, who represented the B.C. Conservatives in Nechako Lakes during the May provincial election, moved to Kamloops specifically to run for party leader.
He announced his candidacy during a press conference at the Coast Kamloops Hotel and Conference Centre on Thursday morning. He told The Daily News afterward the city is a hub of conservative strength in the province.
“I think it’s central to where our strengths are as conservatives and what my message is,” he said.
A big part of the message is the importance of rural B.C. He said 58,000 people have left the province’s small towns during the last 15 years, and that’s crippled the rural economy.
“It’s a real concern, and I think we need to bring some balance into what’s going on in rural B.C.” he said. “That rural economy needs to be rebuilt.”
By doing so, the province’s entire economy will improve, said Brooks.
Brooks also wants to target the provincial deficit and get rid of the more than $55 billion in debt the B.C. Liberals have amassed.
“We’re spending over $2.3 billion a year in interest. I think, as fiscal conservatives, we can change that,” said Brooks.
Brooks said he intends to empower British Columbians. With the Liberals only spending 36 days in the legislature, the impact residents have on democracy is diminished. He wants to give people more power in politics.
“As conservatives, we believe in putting constituents first,” said Brooks.
Brooks operates Crystal Lake Resort near Vanderhoof, a seasonal business that affords him the opportunity to spend ample time in Kamloops, he said.
The leadership job came open when former MP John Cummins stepped aside earlier this year after the Liberals trounced his party during the spring election.
Although the Conservatives came close to winning two byelections in 2012, internal squabbling contributed to a distant third-place showing in the provincial campaign.
Brooks obtained about 13 per cent of the popular vote in his riding.