B.C. Conservatives must rebuild as an immediate priority rather than waiting to see who will lead the party into the next election, says one of two candidates vying for the leadership.
“It’s a very fundamental problem the Conservatives face, which is how to build unity,” said Dan Brooks, who held a meet-and-greet Tuesday night at the Inlander Pub.
Internal dissent over the leadership of John Cummins dogged the party in the run-up to the provincial election. Some believe it had more than a little to do in the party’s failure to win seats.
Dissent goes with the territory because small-c conservatives tend to be free thinkers who believe in individuality, Brooks said.
“It is our greatest weakness and our greatest strength.”
He proposes a three-point strategy to be adopted next spring once the leadership contest provides a foundation for rebuilding.
Formerly a hunting lodge operator near Vanderhoof, Brooks ran under the B.C. Conservative banner Nechako Lakes in the May election. Before that, he chaired the party’s unity committee, which was formed a year ago to overcome dissension.
“When this stuff hit the fan a year ago, it was my proposal to form a unity committee and address those individuals.”
First, he proposes amending the party constitution to include an internal-dispute resolution process. Independent arbitration would have the power to resolve conflicts or remove officers and directors if the constitution were grossly violated.
Letters of censure and disappointment that were issued during the difficulties should be removed to enable the party to put the past behind, he said.
Finally, he would invite expelled members to take part in the new arbitration process.
“We don’t want to perpetuate the problem; what we need is closure.”
Despite the party’s drubbing at the polls, Brooks hasn’t surrendered the ambitious goal of forming the next B.C. government.
“For us to be wanting to form government in 2017, we have to be so far ahead of the game. To prove that confidence, we have to first govern ourselves.”
One of the members who was censured last year by the unity committee was Rick Peterson, so far the only challenger to Brooks’ candidacy.
Peterson announced a string of endorsements on Tuesday, mostly from candidates who ran in the Lower Mainland in May. He served as the Vancouver campaign chair during the provincial election.
Brooks has temporarily relocated to Kamloops to pursue the leadership and said he would make his move permanent if he wins. He said the Interior is critical to the future of the party and he doesn’t feel its been well represented under the Liberals.