An editorial by Mel Rothenburger.
WILL A CHANGE in the name of the BC Liberal Party usher in a new era of popularity for the party? I doubt it.
It’s no big surprise that party members attending a convention in Penticton this past weekend voted to start a process for coming up with a snazzy new, yet-to-be-decided name. But what will it accomplish?
Party names are seldom changed just for the sake of change. Occasionally, there’s good reason, such as when parties merge. A new name was in order, for example, when the Canadian Alliance, formerly the Reform Party of Canada, joined forces with the federal Progressive Conservatives and became the Conservative Party of Canada.
And when Alberta’s Wildrose Party merged with the provincial Progressive Conservatives, the name United Conservative Party was adopted.
Sometimes, though, rebranding is nothing more than an attempt to change public perception. Remember the Cooperative Commonwealth Federation? It was founded in 1932 and was better known simply as the CCF. After some electoral successes, the party faithful feared it was becoming too publicly associated with socialism, so changed its name in 1961 to the New Democratic Party.
Did it affect how the public felt? The NDP today remains clearly recognized as a leftwing party and the name change likely had no effect whatsoever on its political fortunes.
The BC Liberals, though, are basically attempting the same thing with this name change. Some party members worry about being associated in the public’s mind with the federal Liberals even though there’s no connection.
But British Columbians don’t think about Justin Trudeau when they vote provincially. They think about a BC Liberal Party that is fundamentally conservative in nature. They’ve got it figured out.
If they like the party and what it’s done in the past, or if they don’t, a different name isn’t going to convince them to vote one way or another.
At the end of the day, BC Liberals will always be BC Liberals.
I’m Mel Rothenburger, the Armchair Mayor.
Mel Rothenburger is a former mayor of Kamloops and a retired newspaper editor. He is a regular contributor to CFJC Today, publishes the ArmchairMayor.ca opinion website, and is a director on the Thompson-Nicola Regional District board. He can be reached at email@example.com.