Day gears message to skeptical former Liberal voters

He’s been treasurer of Alberta, leader of the opposition in Ottawa as the initial leader of the Canadian Alliance Party and a cabinet minister under Stephen Harper.

But at the moment, Stockwell Day is spreading the unity message to former BC Liberal voters who are shying away from giving the governing party a fourth term in office.

The West Kelowna resident, who did not run in the 2011 federal election,  is busy as a consultant and often travels to India and China. But in addition to his work life, he is spending a considerable amount of time talking to Conservatives who are unhappy with the BC Liberals, and to former Liberal voters.

“I am trying to convince BC Conservatives to get over their upset feelings, because a split vote is not the answer,” he told The Times in an interview before his speech to the annual Mary Polak fundraiser on Friday night, at Cascades Convention Centre.

“They have lots of questions and lots of concerns, but some can be dealt with,” he said. “We can’t let the NDP win. I am painfully aware (from his federal opposition days) of what vote-splitting can do.”

In his speech, Day outlined to the packed house the issues he hears as he talks to groups and individuals about giving the BC Liberals another term in office.

He referred to his former federal Conservative colleague, John Cummins, who is now heading the BC Conservatives.

“He’s a former colleague and I’d consider him a friend. His vision is to divide and split the vote, so the NDP get in for four years, and then voters will be disgusted and vote him in. Vision is not built on division. It’s built on adding things.

“Four years of NDP government will take a generation to repair.

“Then there’s a group in the middle. They’re upset at things, but there is never going to be a perfect party. This is a coalition party — a true coalition.

“If the NDP can get over their performance in the 1990s, we can get over ours.”

Day addressed the introduction of the HST, the Liberals’ Achilles heel with many voters.

“Gordon Campbell, to his credit, took full responsibility about the poor communication over the HST. The premier (Christy Clark) put it to the people. What more can you do?

“Are we willing to forego the future because we can’t get over that?’

He addressed those who are switching to the NDP as well.

“When the NDP were in power, capital and residents fled to Alberta. I was the finance minister there, and we benefited hugely.

“Adrian Dix is looking at the polls and thinks he doesn’t have to commit himself to anything. But what would the NDP do?

“They would like to take away the secret ballot (for union certification) where people address their future. We all know the intimidation that comes when you have to stand to be counted. What other things will be taken away? The secret ballot is the cornerstone of democracy.”

Day said that Forbes magazine has said Canada is the best place to do business, and that B.C. is the best place to do business in Canada.

“This (Liberal party) is a party with a new leader. It is a rejuvenated and invigorated party. I’ve been with Christy Clark on the world stage in India. She is in favour of less tax and a less-regulated marketplace. I call that a message of courage. It is an amazing message.

“People say she’s too optimistic. Her optimism is based on reality. Adrian Dix says the sky is falling. Christy Clark says the sky’s the limit. Wouldn’t you prefer Christy Clark?”

The fundraiser was the most successful one she has ever held, Polak said. A live auction, with Finance Minister Mike de Jong as auctioneer, raised thousands of dollars, as did a silent auction. Extra tables were added at the last minute because of the demand for tickets, with the bar moved out to the foyer due to the need for table space.

Numerous MLAs and candidates were on hand, including Fort Langley-Aldergove MLA and campaign chair Rich Coleman, Surrey-Tynehead candidate (and Langley RCMP Insp.) Amrik Virk and Surrey-Fleetwood candidate and Langley City Mayor Peter Fassbender.

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