Liberal leadership candidate Dianne Watts speaks with Jeff Cook from the Huu-ay-aht First Nations as others wait their turn at a meet and greet in Port Alberni. (Susan Quinn photo)

EDITORIAL: Liberals must listen or lose

The B.C. Liberals find themselves in an odd situation for the first time in 16 years — sitting in opposition while the NDP and Green parties hold a tenuous coalition in the provincial government.

Leadership candidate Dianne Watts, who resigned her federal MP seat in order to run provincially, said during a stop in Port Alberni the Liberals lost the last election because they stopped listening. And because they stopped listening, the communities they were supposed to support lost their trust.

The B.C. Liberals stopped listening to the people that are tired of government off-loading; to the people whose forest sector jobs are threatened; to voters that are tired of platitudes, politicking and promises that politicians can’t or won’t keep.

They also stopped listening to themselves. The Liberals, outwardly anyway, give the impression they don’t know what they stand for anymore. They need to figure it out before February 2018, when the party elects its new leader.

One omission from Watts’ speech to party faithful in Port Alberni was any mention of First Nations issues.

While she said later that she feels it’s a given that indigenous people are included in her vision for the Liberal Party, that runs counter to many of the calls to action that came out of the Truth and Reconciliation Commission five years ago.

The TRC report calls for inclusivity, partnerships with and recognition of aboriginal nations. This doesn’t mean fitting them into an already existing plan as an afterthought — it means purposeful dialogue. It means listening.

— Black Press

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