Peace River South MLA Mike Bernier announces his candidacy for the B.C. Liberal leadership in Vancouver, Sept. 25, 2017. (Katya Slepian/Black Press)

Bernier joins race for B.C. Liberal leadership

Former education minister promises ‘empathy’

Peace River South MLA Mike Bernier says he can bridge the gap between urban and rural B.C. as leader of the B.C. Liberal party.

Bernier announced his candidacy in Vancouver Monday, hours after Vancouver-Quilchena MLA Andrew Wilkinson launched his bid to replace B.C. Liberal leader Christy Clark. He was introduced by Peace River North MLA Dan Davies, who referred to other MLAs and municipal leaders.

Bernier said he is “distancing myself” from the post-election throne speech presented by Clark, because it looked too much like a political move. The B.C. Liberals should have had more to offer on child care to counter the NDP’s $10-a-day proposal, he said.

In an interview with Black Press, Bernier said he was born and raised in North Vancouver before moving to Dawson Creek and becoming mayor and then MLA.

“I moved to rural B.C. in the 1990s, when jobs slowed down,” Bernier said. “A lot of my friends went to Alberta. I went north and spent the remainder of my work life before politics up there.

“I’m the candidate to bridge that rural-urban – the way I’m referencing it is the rural-urban misunderstanding. It’s not a divide. It’s the fact that there are unique differences and unique challenges in rural B.C. and urban B.C. that you can’t use a cookie cutter approach to fix.”

Asked if his move to fire the Vancouver school board for refusing to submit a balanced budget was going to hurt him in the Lower Mainland, Bernier replied:

“Most people I’ve talked to have actually said that was a plus for me, a positive, because I actually showed in a difficult situation where people were saying ‘don’t do it because it could be politically sensitive,’ I stood up and said I’m doing it anyway because it’s the right thing to do for the situation, to try to bring stability to Vancouver.”

Bernier began his pitch to party members by describing the “harsh” message he got after losing the government to an NDP-B.C. Green alliance after the May election.

“One of the reasons why I’m running is the fact that we worked really hard to have jobs, strong economy, triple-A credit rating, all the stuff you’ve heard from the B.C. Liberals, but what we failed to do is close the circle,” Bernier said. “We forgot that’s all a tool to make sure we have the economic means to support people in the province for the social programs that they need and they deserve.

“I will be the candidate that people will see that has not only the leadership and the decision-making ability but the empathy that a leader needs right now.”

BC legislatureBC Liberals

Get local stories you won't find anywhere else right to your inbox.
Sign up here

Just Posted

Environment Canada has issued a snow warning for the Kootenays on Friday. File photo
Environment Canada issues snow warning for Friday

Two-to-10 centimetres is expected to fall

File photo
EDITORIAL: The power of a single vote

In the Oct. 24 British Columbia election, every vote is important

RCMP stock photo (Black Press)
Kelowna RCMP investigating unexplained death of cattle

Cattle found dead near gravel road, east of the Kelowna Airport

The Freeride World Tour will be back in Golden for the fourth year in a row, with athletes coming from across the world to ski at Kicking Horse. (Jeremy Bernard Photography/Kicking Horse Mountain Resort/Instagram photo)
Freeride World Tour to return to Golden

The tour will have a modified championship format in it’s fourth annual stop at Kicking Horse

Provincial health officer Dr. Bonnie Henry presents modelling of COVID-19 spread in B.C., March 25, 2020. (B.C. government photo)
B.C. sets another COVID-19 record with 203 new cases

up to 1,766 active cases in B.C., two more deaths

(Kelowna Capital News)
B.C. Labour Board orders Peachland cannabis company to reinstate laid-off employees

The B.C. Labour Relations Board determined the employees were laid off due to their plan to unionize

RCMP. (Phil McLachlan - Black Press Media)
British Columbia man dies during ski trip near glacier west of Calgary

Kananaskis Public Safety and Alpine Helicopters responded around 2:30 p.m.

Prime Minister Justin Trudeau arrives on Parliament Hill in Ottawa on Monday, Oct. 19, 2020, following a week-long break for the House of Commons. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Sean Kilpatrick
One crisis after another for Trudeau since last federal election one year ago

It has been a year of unprecedented calamity and crisis

Curtis Sagmoen
Public warning issued to North Okanagan sex trade workers

RCMP warns workers to stay away from Salmon River Road area

Two pigs roam the Salmon Arm Walmart parking lot during a prior visit photographed by Danielle Burgi. (Danielle Burgi photo)
Pigs trot over for a visit at Salmon Arm shopping centre

Employees say this was the second drop-in from the temporarily free-range porkers

Join Black Press Media and Do Some Good

Pay it Forward program supports local businesses in their community giving

Penticton law courts. (Black Press file)
Osoyoos man in court for alleged shooting

The Oct. 11 shooting left a man with non-life threatening injuries

Most Read