Despite disaster in last May’s federal election, local Liberals say they’ll be back to fight another day.
“I think the Conservatives are going to have a tougher time with us this time, compared to last time,” Brian Rice, president of the Pitt Meadows-Maple Ridge-Mission Federal Liberal Riding Association said last week.
“I think the results of May 2nd were a pretty effective wake-up call.”
People are signing up and donating to the cause, he says.
The local branch of the party now has about 60 members, about 10 more than before the election, while it also finished the campaign with a few thousand dollars in the bank.
Rice was commenting following a town hall meeting on the future of small-l liberalism last week.
The meeting drew about 25 people at the Maple Ridge library.
“We’ve got a lot of energy, a lot of passion. It’s going to be a real wild four years in Canadian politics.”
The Liberals plummeted to a new low in Pitt Meadows-Maple Ridge-Mission in the last election, earning just five per cent of the vote compared to Conservative’s Randy Kamp’s 54 per cent, or 28,803 votes.
The surprise election had Liberal candidate Mandeep Bhuller take just 2,739 votes – lower than candidate Dan Olson’s 3,394 votes in the 2008 campaign, when the Liberals finished behind the Green party.
In elections prior to that, Liberals had taken about 10,000 votes, even with candidates that came from outside the community.
The party is only now adjusting to the fundraising rules that require more focus on individual donations.
“We’re by no means dead. The Canada that we know and love is based on policies and practices that were passed by Liberal governments,” Rice said.
Federal Liberals choose a new leader in 2013, but that could be advanced depending on the results of a January convention, in which new rules could allow party supporters, rather than party members only, to vote on the leader in a series of regional votes across the country.
Rice also pointed out that after House of Common seats are redistributed in 2013, Pitt Meadows and Maple Ridge could get their own riding, with Mission becoming part of Abbotsford.
The party also says it has a strategy to combat Conservative attack ads launched leaders against Stephane Dion and Michael Ignatieff in previous campaigns.
It plans on doing that by running “innoculation ads” in advance to prepare voters for any negative campaigns.
The executive for the riding association includes:
• president – Brian Rice;
• VP – Cory Cassel;
• treasurer – Alex Pope;
• communications – Rick Rake;
• membership – Carol Stengert;
• policy – Tony Kuhlman;
• fundraising – Allan O’Connor;
• secretary – Bob Gray.
• Patrick Hamilton;
• Herb Stengert;
• John Caldwell;
• Mary Robson.