North Peace MLA Dan Davies has endorsed Northern B.C. MLA Ellis Ross for the leadership of the BC Liberals.
Davies resigned from the party’s executive to be able to make his endorsement, making the announcement to a group of supporters in Fort St. John Friday night. Davies said it has been difficult to watch the party's leadership race unfold from the sidelines, where he had to remain neutral as an executive member.
“Getting to know Ellis over the last five years, his passion for the province and his people, he rose out of the ashes, out of poverty, into understanding the care needed for people, and understanding that care you want to give people is founded in a strong economy," Davies said.
"There is a balance. We all want good healthcare, we all want good education, we all want the social services required when people need them. But we need a good economy to support that. Under this NDP government, that balance has been lost and Ellis has a vision to restore that balance."
Ross, the MLA for Skeena in Northwest B.C., visited Fort St. John on Friday before returning to the legislature next week, meeting with LP at the Peace Valley OSB mill, and visiting Site C and the Charlie Lake war memorial.
Ross was the first to announce a candidacy for the party's leadership race, and says he wants to take the lessons he learned from his time as Chief Councillor of the Haisla Nation and his time in provincial politics, and apply them to governing the province.
First elected MLA in 2017, Ross says the province needs to "put away the political machinery" to set a foundation for its future. He points to places such as Greece, Venezuela, and Detroit, devastated by either bankruptcy or hyperinflation, as lessons to be learned and histories to avoid repeating.
“I’ve been telling people I’m no politician, I’m not going to make you outrageous promises I can’t keep. I do say that I will do my best to provide a better future, provide anything I can, to understand your community’s needs and try to address them as best I can,” said Ross.
“I didn’t know a United States city like Detroit could declare bankruptcy. I didn’t know a country like Greece could declare bankruptcy and need bailout money from the European Union. I didn’t know Venezuela, rich in resources, could go down the road of ideology so much that now they’re dealing with hyperinflation."
"Taking a wheelbarrow of money to the grocery store to buy a loaf of bread? That's pretty scary," he said. "We're not there yet but ... I don't think we've seen yet the full scale of what inflation has got in store for us."
Ross says British Columbians want a strong economy providing good paying jobs, affordable housing, and good infrastructure for their communities, whether that be hospitals, schools, seniors facilities, or rec centres for youth.
“I’ve tried poverty action plans, I’ve tried educational plans. None of it really worked unless you had good job waiting for that person so they could help themselves out of poverty and build their own lives,” Ross said.
“Government can’t build a good life for you. If anything, they can influence it, they can provide a support system, but, coming from the Indian Act, I know for a fact government can’t build you a good life. If anything that means control and dependence, everything I’ve been trying to get away from the last 17 years.”
Party members will elect their new leader in February. Five other candidates are in the leadership race, including Vancouver MLA Michael Lee and Kelowna MLA Renee Merrifield, former Liberal cabinet minister Kevin Falcon, former BC Chamber of Commerce CEO Val Litwin, and Vancouver entrepreneur Gavin Dew.
South Peace MLA Mike Bernier has endorsed Falcon in the leadership race.
— with files from The Canadian Press, Prince George Citizen
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