Peace River South MLA Mike Bernier announces his candidacy for the B.C. Liberal leadership in Vancouver, Sept. 25, 2017. (Katya Slepian/Black Press)

Bernier joins race for B.C. Liberal leadership

Former education minister promises ‘empathy’

Peace River South MLA Mike Bernier says he can bridge the gap between urban and rural B.C. as leader of the B.C. Liberal party.

Bernier announced his candidacy in Vancouver Monday, hours after Vancouver-Quilchena MLA Andrew Wilkinson launched his bid to replace B.C. Liberal leader Christy Clark. He was introduced by Peace River North MLA Dan Davies, who referred to other MLAs and municipal leaders.

Bernier said he is “distancing myself” from the post-election throne speech presented by Clark, because it looked too much like a political move. The B.C. Liberals should have had more to offer on child care to counter the NDP’s $10-a-day proposal, he said.

In an interview with Black Press, Bernier said he was born and raised in North Vancouver before moving to Dawson Creek and becoming mayor and then MLA.

“I moved to rural B.C. in the 1990s, when jobs slowed down,” Bernier said. “A lot of my friends went to Alberta. I went north and spent the remainder of my work life before politics up there.

“I’m the candidate to bridge that rural-urban – the way I’m referencing it is the rural-urban misunderstanding. It’s not a divide. It’s the fact that there are unique differences and unique challenges in rural B.C. and urban B.C. that you can’t use a cookie cutter approach to fix.”

Asked if his move to fire the Vancouver school board for refusing to submit a balanced budget was going to hurt him in the Lower Mainland, Bernier replied:

“Most people I’ve talked to have actually said that was a plus for me, a positive, because I actually showed in a difficult situation where people were saying ‘don’t do it because it could be politically sensitive,’ I stood up and said I’m doing it anyway because it’s the right thing to do for the situation, to try to bring stability to Vancouver.”

Bernier began his pitch to party members by describing the “harsh” message he got after losing the government to an NDP-B.C. Green alliance after the May election.

“One of the reasons why I’m running is the fact that we worked really hard to have jobs, strong economy, triple-A credit rating, all the stuff you’ve heard from the B.C. Liberals, but what we failed to do is close the circle,” Bernier said. “We forgot that’s all a tool to make sure we have the economic means to support people in the province for the social programs that they need and they deserve.

“I will be the candidate that people will see that has not only the leadership and the decision-making ability but the empathy that a leader needs right now.”

Just Posted

UPDATE: Car rolls over coming around corner on Campbell River street

A witness said a car that rolled over onto its roof on… Continue reading

Campbell River RCMP continue search for missing teenager

The Campbell River RCMP have received “numerous tips” on the disappearance of… Continue reading

Search continues for missing Campbell River teen

Jordan Holling, 17, went missing almost a week ago, but the community is rallying to find him

Community rallying for family of missing 17 year-old

Ground searches, meals being prepared and thousands of posters have been circulated

Restoration work on destroyed Campbell River wetland expected to be complete next year

Remediation work on sensitive wetlands south of Jubilee Parkway is expected to… Continue reading

Mirror Morning Oct. 23

For the full story:Campbell River RCMP request help locating missing youth Community… Continue reading

B.C. NDP convention set for Victoria

Premier, federal leader Jagmeet Singh to add energy

Silver Creek farm search expands north

RCMP were seen collecting evidence three kilometres north of the farm where human remains were found

VIDEO: Motorcycle catches fire in Nanaimo traffic

Motorcyclist takes fast action to get burning bike off the road along the old Island Highway

Ferries re-routed due to fluid spill at Nanaimo’s Duke Point

At least one sailing from Tsawwassen to Duke Point was redirected to Departure Bay

Nanaimo man assaulted, tied up and robbed at his home

Incident occurred about 7 a.m. Monday, Oct. 23 at a home on Beverly Drive

B.C. school trustee calls LGBTQ school program ‘weapon of propaganda’

Chilliwack’s Barry Neufeld published the comments on his Facebook page

B.C. couple hope boat drone becomes first to cross Atlantic

Colin and Julie Angus of Victoria to have drone collect environmental data en route

B.C. casino accused of illegal activity follows rules: operator

B.C. had launched review after concerns about money laundering at River Rock casino in Richmond

Most Read