Sunday, November 21, 2010

Brian Peckford in Victoria today

Hey God its me Brian, if its not too much trouble, I am
 hoping you can send me a Conservative government
I had to go out and see what this former Newfie Premier had to say about BC politics.  I am curious to see how the Conservatives are doing and I have always wanted to hear Peckford speak as I have been told he is a good speaker.

The meeting was held at a Salvation Army 'church' at Mackenzie and Douglas and there was a crowd of about 100 people with an average age of about 65 - I am not joking, at 45 I was one of the 10 youngest there.   I recognized a lot of the people from the Federal Conservative Victoria EDA, which is not surprising as it was Jean Howell that sent out the notice of the meeting.

Randy White opened the meeting and talked about the BC Conservative and the need for it.   He clearly feels he is a conservative and that the Liberals are simply not the party for him.  He voted for them in 2001 and then reluctantly in 2005 but did not do so in 2009.  In fact in the last election he did not vote at all, a first for him in his life.

His role has been to be part of an advisory committee to get the party growing.   Core to his advice is build the riding associations, get the money in the bank and sign up the members.   He also wants the party to stay under the radar until it is ready across the province.   The party has money in the bank and it is rapidly organizing across the province.

He also made it clear the party needs clear and specific policies so that the public will know what the party is about, he raised the idea of term limits for MLAs (one I do not agree with) and the need for some form of alternative dispute resolution model for strata councils in BC.

Randy was only the warm up act for the main event.   He introduced Brian Peckford after he has said his piece.

What can I say about Brian Peckford?   He is a brilliant public speaker.  Information, engaging and funny.   If you get the chance to hear him speak, take it, it will be worth the time.  If I were describe him, I would call him the Corky Evans of the right.

He was elected as an MHA in 1972 at age 29 and then became Premier in early 1979 at age 36.  He left after ten years as premier and moved to BC in 1993.  He is still only 68 and could take on the leadership of the party, but he said he would not do it.  His fundamental policy platform has been Better Government, Not More Government

Peckford is really a classic Burkian conservative.  I think his politics are more radically conservative now than when he was premier, but that also may simply be the time and place he was in.   He made some interesting allusions to the state of BC in 1903 and now.   In 1903 BC had seen 32 years of chaotic government with a constant changing of premiers.   It was in 1903 the Richard McBride brought party politics to BC and became the first Conservative premier of the province.

He did an amazing job of poking fun at the current government and has this comedians sense of timing as he ridicules the NDP and Liberals.   All humour aside, he also is a keen observer of politics and knows what goes into running a government.   His 45 minute talk flew by and he had the whole crowd in his hands.

One thing I found interesting in his talk was his praise for the governments of Norway and Finland.   I really do not know enough about either one to know if they are as small government minded as he is.

The Conservatives have a huge asset in Brian Peckford that if they use well will take them a long way to building a stronger party.   If he can be convinced to give talks like this on a regular basis, I can see it bringing in new members to the party quickly.   My guess is that 30 to 40 people signed up to be members of the party.

I am not joining the BC Conservatives, I remain with the BC Liberals and it would take major changes by both parties for that to change.   The sort of element that has been around the BC Conservatives in the past were wing nuts.  I may respect Randy White as a politician, but politically there is a lot I disagree with him on.

BC Politics will see four parties running full slates in 2013.   The Conservatives will have the money and organization to be a force in the election.    Without a new Liberal leader and not knowing who the Conservative leader will be, it is hard to say the impact on the election.  The most likely result will be a jockey between the Liberals and Conservatives as to who will lead the free enterprise forces against the NDP after they NDP win the 2013 election.
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