Leadership Hopefuls Need Message of Change

By Justin P. Goodrich, LL.M


It’s a good word, depending on ones level of cynicism.  Those who are optimists believe that change is possible.  Those who are pessimists tend to dismiss the notion of change as nothing more than political rhetoric.  Recognizing these two possibilities, using a message of change can be problematic for those seeking the leadership of the BC Liberal Party.  However, change is exactly what the party needs.

With a slate consisting of seven hopefuls – one of whom a high-profile outsider with political experience, the other a political novice, and the remaining a mix that includes former provincial cabinet ministers – there are a great many possibilities at play.  However, one thing is for certain: members of the BC Liberal Party must take in to consideration when selecting their new leader that the successful individual must be able to appeal to all British Columbian’s using an authentic message of change.  The question becomes, is that even possible?

As I have written about before, the BC Liberal Party lost because British Columbian’s no longer believed in them.  Despite a strong economy, balanced budgets, and a plan to secure the provinces prosperity for generations to come, it just wasn’t enough.  As a result, a minority BC Liberal government was formed which then led to the NPD and Greens creating an alliance.  This, in turn, resulted in the Lieutenant Governor offering the NPD the opportunity to form government.  However, this was simply the end result.  From high-profile MLA’s – several of whom were Cabinet ministers – losing their seats, to other, generally speaking popular MLA’s dropping percentage points in the double-digits, it was obvious to most – including party members – that the BC Liberal Party had surpassed their ‘best before date’ in the eyes of many British Columbian’s.

Recognizing that British Columbian’s weren’t happy with the BC Liberals this takes us back to the question I posed earlier: can the party elect a leader who will appeal to all British Columbian’s using an authentic message of change?  In order to answer this question we must first explore some of the reasons the party’s popularity plummeted in the last election.

For The Record…

Though there is no quantitative data that can be used to answer this question there is, without a doubt, an abundance of qualitative data.  From a disingenuous Premier, to a sense of entitlement resulting from sixteen years in government, to an ever growing sentiment that the party is governed from the top-down and no longer lives-out its values as a grassroots organization, these are just a few of the sentiments that have been shared with me in coffee shops and meetings as I engaged in conversations with colleagues, friends and even strangers.

Recognizing that these sentiments led to a minority government and then, ultimately, a change in status to the Official Opposition, the only way to regain power is by promising authentic change.  That means leadership hopefuls must use a narrative that will not only convince party members, but also the general public that they have what it takes to ensure if elected leader they will change the way the party – and the province – is led.

In order for this to become a reality, I would suggest that the following are just a few of the things that need to happen…

First and foremost is the decentralization of power at the top of the party.  The alleged muzzling of MLA’s from the top-down must cease, and I would respectfully submit that the recognition of the party’s dysfunctionality and a pledge to change its internal discourse should be at the top of a candidates talking points.

Next, those who have put their names forward must embrace and live-out a new style of leadership.  A leadership style that is about listening, collaborating and taking action through a lens of authenticity and service.  A leadership style that inspires British Columbian’s to engage in open, honest, healthy discussions around issues that are important.  A leadership style that recognizes the importance of empowerment and respect.

Finally, introducing a set of values that make it clear that every member of the team will be heard, and subsequently permitted to do their jobs while always ensuring the best interest of their constituents are at the forefront of their decisions; even if those decisions don’t always line-up with the party platform.

In short, more than anything, the successful candidate must be authentic, have a proven track record of collaboration, and integrity above repute.  For me, there is one person who lives-out those values more than any other and I look forward to supporting that individual in their bid for leadership.  For my fellow BC Liberals who may read this column, let us ensure the person we elect to be our new leader lives-out these virtues in their day-to-day lives so that we can regain the trust of our fellow British Columbian’s –

who, for sixteen years, knew that it was in their best interest to elect a BC Liberal government for their prosperity, and the prosperity of generations to come.

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