The British Columbia Liberal Party will officially become known as BC United on Wednesday, a move the party says gives voters 18 months to become familiar with the new name before the 2024 fixed election date.
Party vice-president Caroline Elliott said Monday the Liberals are going ahead with the name change with confidence that New Democrat Premier David Eby will not call an early election this year.
“David Eby, the Premier, has sworn up and down he will not be calling an election sooner than the fixed election date and he will not be breaking the fixed election date law as his predecessor did,” she said in an interview.
“We’re going to be taking him at his word,” said Ms. Elliott. “We’re going to hope he keeps that promise but at the same time we’re going to be ready.”
Former NDP premier John Horgan called a snap election in 2020 during the height of the COVID-19 pandemic, winning a majority and reducing the Liberals to 28 seats in the 87-seat legislature.
Liberal Leader Kevin Falcon, who was elected to the post in February, 2021, will introduce the party’s new name, logo and brand at a ceremony in Surrey.
The party announced in November that 80 per cent of Liberal members voted to proceed with the name change to BC United.
Mr. Falcon said reconsidering the party’s name was a priority during his leadership campaign where he promised full-scale renewal.
Debate about changing the party’s name has been around for decades as some members worry about a perceived – but inaccurate – connection to the federal Liberal Party, Ms. Elliott said.
“Many of our members are, true, federal Liberals,” she said. “Some of them are federal Conservatives. Some of them, most of them probably, are no federal affiliation whatsoever.”
The BC United name change reflects the political, geographical, social and cultural diversity within today’s party, Ms. Elliott said.
“There’s our diversity across the urban-rural divide,” she said. “There are all kinds of ways that people describe not just our party, but politics generally. What we wanted to represent in our brand is we’re coming together.”
The BC United name will represent the party’s common purpose of improving people’s lives, said Ms. Elliott.
“That’s the focus of the name and you’ll see that as our theme Wednesday,” she said of the details being released amid fanfare at a hotel ballroom.
The BC Liberals have traditionally been a centre-right coalition, rising to Opposition in the early 1990s and forming government for 16 years starting in 2001.
Ms. Elliott said the name change has party members anticipating new strength and renewal for the party.
“I think it is a big moment in our history,” she said. “Really, it’s because we’ve all sort of agreed that what’s important to us is coming together for the purpose we share, and that’s building a bright future for B.C.”