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Little appetite from delegates to change name of B.C. Liberals

Liberal MLA Bill Bennett is seen in Victoria, B.C., Thursday March 14, 2013


Delegates to the B.C. Liberal convention were greeted this weekend by a campaign to jettison the party name. But the blue buttons calling for a new label seem destined for the bin of lost causes, with former champions for change now prepared to defend the current brand.

Energy minister Bill Bennett has led the call for a name change, expressing discomfort since he joined the party 14 years ago.

But with the party's surprise win in May of 2013, he said in an interview Friday the label was secured.

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"I always struggled with the B.C. Liberal name," he said. But he argues the party has managed to renew under the existing name. "Why in the world would we change our brand now?"

The last time the party membership gathered, the B.C. Liberal party was struggling, its alliance of federal Liberals and Conservatives strained. The brand name was dead, some party activists worried, and Premier Christy Clark promised a review of the name at this convention.

Brad Bennett, of the Social Credit dynasty, played a key role in helping Ms. Clark re-unite the centre-right vote in the lead up to the last election. He opened the Kelowna convention with a cheer for the party's victory. "We did it," he told about 1,000 delegates.

Outside the convention hall, he said the provincial vote result a year ago ended, in his mind, the debate over the party name.

"I would say today the free enterprise coalition under the B.C. Liberal banner is stronger than ever. Perhaps if there is a party that needs to think about a name change, it is the NDP."

And Stockwell Day, who helped deliver federal Conservative support for Ms. Clark's party, agreed the debate is over.

"I think those who were concerned about the B.C. Liberal tag, as I have been over the years, are starting to recognize provincially, it keeps winning," he said.

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"I just have to keep making it clear the B.C. Liberals are a coalition, they are not the federal Liberals. I have to remind my mother of that constantly."

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About the Author
B.C. politics reporter

Based in the press gallery of the B.C. Legislature in Victoria, Justine has followed the ups and downs of B.C. premiers since 1988. She has also worked as a business reporter and on Parliament Hill covering national politics. More


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