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New leader of B.C. Conservatives faces some tough challenges, including where to put HQ

MONDAY MORNING EDITORIAL — The B.C. Conservatives have themselves a new leader, and Dan Brooks is off to a courageous start.

BC.Cons logoBrooks won a comfortable victory over opponent Rick Peterson at a party convention in Richmond on the weekend and began with a call for unity within the party.

Given the internal strife that beset the B.C. Conservatives leading up to last year’s provincial election, those words are more than platitudes. Brooks, an unknown in B.C. politics, will have to take charge and show the rank and file who’s in charge.

His predecessor, John Cummins, tried to do that but the party emerged bruised and battered and took less than five per cent of the popular vote.

But the reference to Brooks being off to a courageous start relates to another matter. A few months ago, when he launched his campaign for the leadership, he promised to establish party headquarters in Kamloops if he was chosen leader.

His explanation had to do with the Thompson River being an important tributary of the might Fraser, etc. etc. but what he meant was that it’s time to turn political attention to the Interior of the province that provides the raw materials that drive B.C.’s economy.

That’s not as easy at it sounds. The power in B.C. politics still lies in the Lower Mainland, where the biggest population and, therefore, the most ridings are concentrated.

Moving party headquarters to Kamloops might prove problematic in trying to establish credibility for the party at the Coast where all those votes and ridings are, and might even alienate a big piece of its base.

Yet, having made a promise, Brooks is stuck with it. Should he renege, he’ll be tarred as a leader who enters the real world of politics by breaking his first promise.

The only pragmatic way out of it is probably to keep the party’s working HQ at the Coast and set up a satellite in Kamloops. It will be a halfway measure and he might face some jealousies from the North, the Kootenays and Vancouver island, or even the Okanagan who will wonder if they’re chopped liver.

Welcome to politics, Mr. Leader.

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About Mel Rothenburger (6630 Articles)
ArmchairMayor.ca is a forum about Kamloops and the world. It has more than one million views. Mel Rothenburger is the former Editor of The Daily News in Kamloops, B.C. (retiring in 2012), and past mayor of Kamloops (1999-2005). At ArmchairMayor.ca he is the publisher, editor, news editor, city editor, reporter, webmaster, and just about anything else you can think of. He is grateful for the contributions of several local columnists. This blog doesn't require a subscription but gratefully accepts donations to help defray costs.

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