Ex-leader Gordon Wilson says he is coming home to the BC Liberal Party and wants others to join him.
Wilson, who lives in Powell River, released a video on YouTube Sunday, May 5, endorsing the Liberals and Premier Christy Clark. “After 20 years, I believe that all of us who were so excited at the BC Liberal breakthrough in 1991, but who left the party in 1993, and those of us who don’t feel comfortable at the prospect of an Adrian Dix government, [should] come home,” he says in the video.
Wilson led the BC Liberals to win 17 provincial seats in the 1991 election, reviving the almost moribund party to Official Opposition status. In 1993, he left the Liberals and founded the Progressive Democratic Alliance (PDA), which he led from 1993 to 1999, winning his seat in Powell River-Sunshine Coast in the 1996 election. He abandoned the PDA in 1999 to become a New Democratic Party (NDP) cabinet minister and ran unsuccessfully for the NDP leadership in 2000. He lost his seat in the 2001 Liberal landslide, when his former party won 77 of 79 seats in the legislature.
Wilson said his concern started to grow through the “straw man” the NDP put up in its platform. “To suggest that the deficits that they plan to run are going to be legacy deficits of the Liberals is just dishonest, because a budget is a projection,” he told the Peak in a phone interview. “It’s a projection of revenue and it’s a projection of planned expenditures and until the end of a fiscal year, you don’t know if it’s balanced or not.”
Clark has had a consistent message about making sure the provincial fiscal house was in order while working toward attempting to achieve a balanced budget, Wilson added, which appealed to him. “I think she understands you have to, at this time, cut your costs and make sure you don’t have runaway deficits, runaway debt.”
When he read the NDP platform, Wilson said, he was “horrified that they had such a cavalier attitude toward debt.”
But the “straw that broke the camel’s back” came on Earth Day, when Dix announced he was opposed to the proposed expansion of the Kinder Morgan pipeline. “I’m as concerned as any other citizen living on the coast about increased tanker traffic off our coast,” said Wilson. “It’s a very, very controversial issue. I get it.”
However, the Kinder Morgan proposal is a $5-billion project, said Wilson. “[Dix] woke up in the morning and said, ‘I’m opposed to it,’ which was a complete contradiction to his earlier position.”
The next day, Wilson said, MLA John Horgan, the NDP’s energy critic, was meeting with Kinder Morgan to essentially “cut a deal to put it in Delta Port. I was outraged, absolutely outraged, because there are a lot of people I know and whose opinion I respect who are absolutely adamantly opposed to pipeline expansion and tanker traffic down the coast who were thinking they were going to place their vote with the NDP. But essentially, they were being sold a bill of goods and it reminded me too much...back in the 1990s, the environmentalists were promised everything by the NDP and they didn’t deliver.”
Wilson said his position on the pipelines is, because they are part of Canada’s energy strategy, they will be imposed on BC. “If they are imposed on us, we better have a pretty clear set of requirements in order to make these things work,” he said. “Premier Clark has done that. She’s put out five very clear requirements if we are to have these projects in British Columbia.”
He couldn’t sit back and have that level of dishonesty put out on a major issue, Wilson added. “It forced me to say, it’s time to come home.”
Despite what is being suggested by some political bloggers and commentators, Wilson said he is not thinking of a political comeback.
Clark posted a photo of herself and Wilson on her Facebook page Monday, May 6. “Delighted to have the support of former NDP minister Gordon Wilson,” the photo caption reads. “Says Gordon: ‘I’ve worked with Adrian Dix. I’ve worked with Christy Clark. Christy Clark would make the better Premier.’”
Dix was not available for comment on Monday. The Peak could not reach incumbent Nicholas Simons for comment before deadline.