BC Liberals leadership candidate Mike de Jong spoke to Campbell River-area Liberals at the Riptide Marine Pub on Monday morning. Photo: Alistair Taylor/Campbell River Mirror

BC Liberals must unleash new ideas: leadership hopeful Mike de Jong

Former finance minister meets with BC Liberal party members in Campbell River

BC Liberal Party leadership candidate Mike de Jong believes the party became “somewhat disconnected” after 16 years in power.

But the former finance minister under the BC Liberal government says he believes voters still appreciate his party’s achievements like a strong economy and the best job creation record in the country.

“I think there were some gaps there which is why we find ourselves in opposition but I think we can overcome that by unleashing a new set of ideas,” de Jong said in an interview after meeting with Liberal party members and supporters in Campbell River Monday morning.

The interview:

Mike de Jong: We need a leader that’s going to pull together our free enterprise coalition that’s going to go to every town, village hamlet in the four corners of the province. We are free enterprisers. We have encountered an electoral setback but we are going to re-energize ourself and I believe that I’m the right guy to do that.

Campbell River Mirror: What was your message today to Campbell River Liberals?

MDJ: To be involved. The province needs the BC Liberal Party, our free enterprise coalition team, to be in a position to successfully fight the electoral rematch that may come sooner, rather than later. Obviously in selecting our new captain I have a preference and I have explained to the members of the party that were gathered here today why I thought I would be a, why I think I’m the man for the job. And we had a great session in terms of the questions and observations and I am feeling even more positive than when I arrived.

CRM: What Campbell River-area-specific issues were raised?

MDJ: We talked about everything from resource development to transportation to housing. You know Campbell River, and here we are at the Riptide (Marine Pub) and we’re just talking about with Roy who invested in the Riptide took his own money and now hires people and has hired a chef who was trained right here in Campbell River. This is an example of the ingredients, the recipe for success for any community – education and training opportunities and employment opportunities and it’s all right here in Campbell River. I’m just worried. The new NDP government seems intent upon dismantling that recipe for success that’s served British Columbia so well.

CRM: What’s your interpretation of what happened in the last B.C. election?

MDJ: Ha, ha, well, we lost and then ended up in opposition but not by a very big score. I think that over 16 years people thought that the BC Liberal Party and the government had become somewhat disconnected. I think though they still understand the importance and the achievements of having the best economy, the best job-creation record in the country. I think there were some gaps there which is why we find ourselves in opposition but I think we can overcome that by unleashing a new set of ideas, reigniting the imagination, re-emphasizing our belief in responsible fiscal management but utilizing that, the benefits of that to look after people that need help and also the fact that it’s the private sector that is the engine of our economy and not government.

See an interview with competing leadership candidate Andrew Wilkinson during his Campbell River visit:Leadership candidate: BC Liberals have to talk to people about ‘things that matter in the living room’