Kootenay East MLA, Tom Shypitka of the BC Liberals (Hansard TV)

Kootenay East MLA, Tom Shypitka of the BC Liberals (Hansard TV)

Kootenay East MLA backs BC Liberal name change

Tom Shypitka said the current party name was confusing for voters

Kootenay East MLA, Tom Shypitka has welcomed news that the B.C. Liberal Party will be exploring a name change.

“It’s something I’ve advocated for ever since I got into politics in 2017,” said the B.C. Liberal politician.

The B.C. Liberal Party is not affiliated with any federal parties, having split from the Liberal Party over 50 years ago. Since then, the parties have diverged so much that the B.C. Liberals fill the role as primary centre-right party within British Columbia, whereas federally, the Liberal Party positions itself in the centre.

“The name is just misrepresentative, it’s not fair to federal Liberals, it’s not fair to federal Conservatives, it’s not really descriptive of what the party is.”

Shypitka said that the name “B.C. Liberals” has been a stumbling block in campaigning, and as the Federal Liberal government got older, it was getting harder to cut through.

“It wasn’t such a big deal (in the 2017 provincial election) because the Federal Liberals had just gotten in, but of course there’s a shelf-life to all political parties, and as the shelf-life of the Liberals has been wearing thin, that comes back to us as if we’re tied to everything the Federal Liberals do, and that’s totally not the case.”

Within the electoral district of Kootenay East, the B.C. Liberal Party has been dominant since 2001, when the seat flipped from BC NDP to BC Liberal. Tom Shypitka was re-elected as MLA in 2020 with over 57 percent of the vote – the strongest showing for the BC Liberals in an election that saw the party lose 13 seats elsewhere in the province.

Asked for any suggested names, Shypitka said he believed the party should pick a name that was more inclusive, though a commonly suggested alternative, ‘The B.C. Party’ is not permitted as another party has registered that name with elections BC within the last ten years.

“Right from the start I liked B.C. United – it’s inclusive, brings people together. As a diverse province I think the thing that make us different are the things that make us strong. There’s plenty of others – B.C. First, Progressive B.C. – there could be all kinds of different names, and we’re asking people if they have any suggestions to bring them forward. We want this process to be as engaging as possible.”

The B.C. Liberal Party will be deliberating on a possible name change over the next few months, with party leader Kevin Falcon campaigning to change the name as part of his leadership bid. The party could be going to the next ballot with a different name, with the process for party members to vote on a new name expected to be wrapped up before the end of the year.

The next provincial election is expected be held on or before October 19, 2024.

READ MORE: Comment: Pondering party names

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