BC Liberals must rebuild lost trust, says leadership hopeful Michael Lee

BC Liberals have lost trust?

The BC Liberal party needs to rebuild the trust, one leadership hopeful says it has lost across the province.

Michael Lee, MLA for Vancouver Langara, and one of six verified leadership candidates, made the comment during an interview with Castanet News while on a campaign swing through the Southern Interior.

"I am running to lead the rebuild of the BC Liberal party," said Lee, who finished a close third during the 2018 leadership race.

"This time, what is so important is we need to restore trust with members of our party, supporters, donors, and British Columbians. I believe we have lost trust as a party with British Columbians and, fundamentally, in order for British Columbians to have confidence and faith in us again, we need to work on that."

Lee says the party needs to restore integrity, the type of integrity we would expect from politicians at all levels of government.

He says that's what convinced him to leave his law practice after 20 years to restore trust and confidence.

"For my campaign at least, I have set out a very strong code of conduct for the volunteers and supports on my board-based team, and made it clear that everybody should feel welcome, regardless of their age, gender, sexual orientation, their ethnicity or religion.

"Also in terms of expecting a higher standard for the party, I have also expected the kind of conduct we would have that the party itself would not give a platform to those who might be potential candidates who have intolerant views."

Lee underscored that opinion earlier in the week, tweeting his opposition to Aaron Gunn's intentions to run for the leadership of the party.

"I respect British Columbians right to express their views, have their views and communicate their views on how anyone might want to do that. Certainly, Mr. Gunn does that through a large social media following, and he has been very strong on some of those views," said Lee.

"But, my concern is that for any views that are intolerant or speaks against our inclusivity views...I'm talking about discrimination, hate, bigotry, making people feel they are not being well respected in our communities...women, people of the LGBTQ community, Indigenous peoples. The broad diversity of people in our province need to be respected and made to be included."

As for the Okanagan, Lee says he recognizes the important role the region plays as an economic driver for the whole of the province.

He says as a leader, who would continue to support those important economic initiatives such as the booming tech industry, the Innovation Centre and post secondary institutions such as UBCO and Okanagan College as well as agriculture, the wine industry and tourism.

But, while the Okanagan provides the right balance for those industries to thrive, he acknowledges there are issues that need to be dealt with.

Lee says governments need to better support our elderly who are living longer, and healthier lives with better home care, and also help insure families have access to adequate daycare facilities.

"We also know in terms of child care, government can't be the only solution, but we need to do things in partnership with not-for-profit groups and the private sector."

He says infrastructure for both housing and transportation needs to improve, as does the housing supply.

"When we put health care, education, transportation dollars into a community, we have to be a real partner, and we have to work with local municipalities and regional districts to ensure we are getting the right mix of family, rental and other housing density being built.

"That's another aspect of where I believe our provincial government needs to move in a more practical, pragmatic partnership way."

The BC Liberal party will elect a new leader Feb. 5.

You can read previous stories on leadership hopefuls Ellis Ross and Val Litwin. The other candidates, Gavin Dew, Kevin Falcon, Renee Merrifield and Aaron Gunn will be interviewed in the coming weeks.

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