Dianne Watts met with Shuswap BC Liberal supporters Wednesday to shake hands, share a bit about herself and answer questions about her bid for the party’s leadership.
The former Surrey mayor and Federal Conservative Party member addressed an intimate crowd of BC Liberal Party faithful at Chester’s House of Cinammon. After receiving a warm welcome and introduction by Brian Cowan, Watts explained she’s visiting communities to make connections and determine how to “come together in a better way to deal with issues.”
Watts stressed how in the last provincial election, the BC Liberals lost 11 seats between Vancouver Island and the Lower Mainland.
“I would say we let the rest of British Columbia down in the Lower Mainland, without a doubt,” said Watts. “If you look at where we come from and what we had to work with in the last election… how does anybody lose an election going in with that much? Well, I’ll tell you how, when you stop listening and you stop connecting, you lose elections.”
Watts emphasized her reluctance to make any promises she couldn’t deliver and said that despite what fellow candidates may be offering now, her focus is on growing the party, reconnecting with people and rebuilding trust.
“That’s our goal and that’s what we need to be doing because if we don’t, we will not win the next election and we will be in opposition for a very long time,” said Watts. “And I don’t think anybody in this room wants the NDP and the Green Party to be in power any longer than they have to be.”
Watts largely refrained from criticizing fellow BC Liberal leadership hopefuls including Todd Stone, Andrew Wilkinson, Mike De Jong, Sam Sullivan and Michael Lee. She was, however, critical of the current BC NDP government, their halting of the Site C dam project and their push for electoral reform.
Speaking briefly to a question of vision, for the party and the prospect of it once again forming government, Watts said “we don’t know fiscally what we going to inherit, we don’t know what they’ll have done to some of the major infrastructure projects, and we don’t know what they’re going to do in terms of tackling the homelessness, the housing and affordability… We’ll hold them to account initially, and develop our vision as we move forward and get down the road. It comes back to who we are as BC Liberals, right. Again, strong fiscal management, making sure we have got a good, strong economy, job growth, but making sure we also reinvest in communities.”
This evening, from 6:30 to 7:30 p.m., Watts will be in Vernon for a meet and greet at Sir Winston’s Pub.