Surrounded by his supporters, former Vancouver-Quilchena candidate Rick Peterson, 59, announced his bid for the leadership of the BC Conservative Party at Terminal City Club today.
Peterson, a Vancouver business man and former BC Liberal, who was in the running as a candidate for the BC provincial elections in 2012, before opting out and passing the torch to veteran politician Bill Clarke, said he was “humbled by the opportunity to make our province the best one in what truly is the best country in the world.”
Claiming Margaret Thatcher and Premier Stephen Harper as his role models, Peterson said his goal is to relaunch the BC Conservative Party. Peterson said he wanted to start today rather than wait until the 2017 elections, and pointed out three key issues: child poverty, an honest discussion about the resource sector and the need to take action on tax fairness.
“As a BC Conservative, I believe that a government must be guided by four key values that I know are shared by Conservatives everywhere: personal freedom, tax fairness, accountability and social responsibility. If we build our Province on these four core values, we are going in the right direction,” he said. “But that’s not happening in BC today. Christy Clark does not share these values. British Columbia isn’t moving in the right direction.”
Another point he made was to keep religious beliefs outside of politics.
“We will remain faithful to our religious beliefs, but we will set them aside for the greater cause of uniting our Party around strong policy that strengthens the rich and diverse tapestry of this province.”
Sean Upshaw, a Kelowna realtor who ran against Christy Clark in the July 10 by-elections in Westside-Kelowna, joined Peterson on stage. Peterson had assisted Upshaw during the summer campaign, knocking on doors at what felt like 40 C.
“I believe that he has not only what it takes to be the leader of the BC Conservative Party, because if it stopped there, he wouldn’t get my support. I believe he has what it takes to be the premier of British Columbia,” said Upshaw. “I would hope that the advantages that would be brought, would be not just for the Okanagan, but for the entire province, which then, to use a Ronald Reagan term, would have a trickle-down effect on the Okanagan as well,” he said, adding the BC Conservatives are keen on speeding up important Okanagan issues such as the construction of a new hospital in Penticton.
However endorsed by fellow Conservatives – Duane Nickull, Ken Charko and Bill Clarke were amongst the audience – it seems there is no way but up for Peterson and the BC Conservatives after the party’s less than stellar results in the last election, ending up without seats in the legislature and only 4.76% of the popular vote (after BC Liberals: 44.14%, BC NDP: 39.71% and Green Party: 8.13%).
The candidacy bid got a mixed reception on Twitter:
The BC Conservative Party will hold its annual general meeting on October 18 in Vernon and its leadership election on April 11, 2014.
Report by Katja De Bock
Did you know:
-Rick Peterson was raised in Grand Prairie, Alberta and is a former journalist at publications such as the Wall Street Journal?
-Has three adult children, is fluently bilingual English-French and a volunteer mentor to First Nations youth group in East Vancouver?
-Is an accomplished hockey player?