Ryan Warawa (L) was acclaimed president of the B.C. Conservative Party at the 2017 AGM in Langley. Jeff Bridge (R) is vice-president. Supplied

New leader, but no new name for B.C. Conservative party

Announcement made following Langley AGM

The communication director of the British Columbia Conservative Party, Scott Anderson, has been appointed the party’s interim leader.

Anderson is a Vernon city councillor and a former officer in the Canadian Armed Forces Reserves.

“Having been on the inside through both the hard times and the good times, I can say with complete candor that I have never seen the party so united and energetic as it is now,” Anderson said..

“My intention is to help brand the party as a home for all fiscal conservatives, including the thousands of former BC Liberals who were betrayed and left out in the cold by the recent Liberal Throne Speech.”

He will remain interim Leader will last until a new leader is elected by the general membership of the BC Conservatives.

The party has been without a leader since October of 2016, when Dan Brooks was removed by the party’s executive board after it ruled that the meeting that approved his candidacy for the leadership convention lacked quorum.

The announcement comes after the party held its annual general meeting in Langley on the weekend.

A proposal to change the name of the British Columbia Conservative party to the “Conservative Party of B.C.” won a majority of votes, but not a big enough majority at the AGM.

Party president Ryan Warawa said about two-thirds of delegates favoured the change to make the provincial party name more like the federal Conservative Party of Canada, but it wasn’t quite enough under party regulations that required a 75 per cent margin.

“The vast majority of us on the board are active in the federal Conservatives,” said Warawa, who was elected president of the B.C. party’s nine-member board of directors by acclamation at the Saturday (Sept. 30) meeting in the Murrayville hall.

The next task for the board will be choosing a Conservative candidate for the provincial by-election in Kelowna West to fill the seat left vacant by the resignation pf premier Christy Clark.

“We’ve put out a call for candidates,” Warawa said.

READ MORE: Christy Clark to step down as BC Liberal leader

READ MORE: Chloé Ellis withdraws as leadership candidate for BC Conservative Party

Warawa said the party expects to pick up support from disaffected Liberal supporters unhappy with the Clark government budget that preceded the NDP-Green party coalition takeover.

The budget was roundly criticized for imitating NDP proposals, Warawa said, and immediately after it was proposed, the Conservatives started picking up members, reversing a decline of several years.

“By moving to the left, the Liberals have opened up an opportunity on the right,” Warawa said.

“Our goal is to supplant the Liberal party.”

Warawa said party members are more optimistic than they have been for some time, with many talking about emulating the sudden 1991 rise of the provincial Liberals, who went from no seats to official opposition.

About 80 delegates attended the the 2017 AGM.

The event was opened with greetings from Township of Langley Mayor Jack Froese.

Speakers included Fort St. John Mayor Lori Ackerman, Canadian Taxpayers Federation BC Director Kris Sims and former leadership hopeful Chloé Ellis, who called off her bid last year after a family member fell ill.

In the 2016 provincial election, the Conservatives ran candidates in 10 of 87 ridings and collected 10,402 votes, less than one per cent of the provincial total.

READ MORE: BC Conservative candidate responds to Liberals’ release of Facebook posts

The BC Conservative Party won British Columbia’s first election fought on the party system in 1903 with a two-seat majority in the legislature.

The Tories kept power for 13 years until they were defeated by the Liberals in 1916.

The last time the Conservatives formed a majority government in the province was in the 1928 election.

READ MORE: Cummins steps down as BC Conservative leader



dan.ferguson@langleytimes.com

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About 80 delegates attended the 2017 annual general meeting of the B.C. Conservative Party in Langley. Supplied

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