Dec. 19, 2017

Liberal Leadership

Favourites starting to show in Liberal leadership race

By Merv Unger

1119 - As an old ink-stained wretch (retired journalist), I asked numerous people in the audience at the B.C. Liberal leadership debate in Nanaimo "whom would you write off your list, having heard all the candidates?"

The verdict was unanimous. All but one of the supporters I talked to said Dianne Watts is out of touch, not having a grasp of issues. When confronted with a "gotcha" question by one of the candiates she flubbed it miserably by trying to muddle her way through. If you don't know forestry in front of a Vancouver Island audience it will quickly show. Old rule of politics, if you don't know the answer, don't try to fake it. She looked uncomfortable in her surroundings.

The consensus appeared to be Mike de Jong, Todd Stone and Andrew Wilkinson  setting the pace at this stage of the race. If Sunday's event was any indication, it may be a three-way race to the finish.

De Jong’s 24 years experience in the Legislature, with numerous cabinet portfolios, show through. He is knowlegeable on any topic, his campaign appears to be “steady as she goes.”

Stone showed a vibrance you expect from a political leader, and he handled himself well when challenged by the other candidates. He had a number of issues to answer for from his days as transportation minister – ICBC, infrastructure, etc. – but appeared to come out unscathed.

Wilkinson comes as a breath of fresh air. He brought the candidates – and Liberals – back to reality when he challenged them how all their promises would be paid for. Politicans are so quick with promises they often forget that the bill arrives at the end of the month.

Mike Lee and Sam Sullivan both tried to appeal to a new audience – youth – in their presentations – technology and the internet generation. They may not be ahead of their time, it might be just the others have not caught up to the reality of that generation. It's there, the challenge is getting them involved.

Each candidate’s supporters are elated that their candidate is in the lead, as they see it. A word of caution, it’s a long stretch drive between now and February. 

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