Provincial Conservative leadership hopeful sticking up for rural B.C.

For too long, Dan Brooks says rural B.C. residents have been neglected by decision-makers in Victoria.

One of two declared candidates for the leadership of the provincial Conservative party

For too long, Dan Brooks says rural B.C. residents have been neglected by decision-makers in Victoria.

A candidate for the leadership of the B.C. Conservative Party, he would like to reverse a trend whereby a “slow attrition of rural resource economy” has been occurring over a long period of time.

“We’ve lost 58,000 people in 15 years out of rural British Columbia. That’s a big deal,” Brooks said in a Wednesday interview during a visit to the Comox Valley. “Our population would be in decline if it wasn’t for immigration, because net migration is out of this province.”

The 38-year-old Brooks is married with seven daughters. He owns and operates the Crystal Lake Resort near his hometown of Vanderhoof in North Central B.C.

He said keeping people in B.C. is a “fundamental question of economics,” noting tax revenue that comes with well-paid jobs.

“What we have right now is a tax base that is so high, and jobs aren’t arriving. It’s driving our economy elsewhere. It’s just going to be deficit spending after deficit spending.

“We’re seeing that happen now with the Liberals. They can’t balance a budget for the life of them. They’re throwing everything they have at LNG (liquified natural gas).”

Which is fine in the long-term, but Brooks said Premier Christy Clark and the B.C. Liberals are not addressing the fundamental problem of rural population decline.

“She thinks LNG is the magic answer. It’s not going to fix rural B.C.,” said Brooks, who supports resource development but criticizes the “flawed” approval process.

He suggests population decline can be neutralized by proper land-use planning, improved quality of life and tourism. He feels the latter has “enormous potential” on the North Island. Tourism traffic, for example, would alleviate hikes in ferry costs.

Brooks was impressed with the Vancouver Island Visitor Centre in Cumberland. He feels every rural community in the province needs a similar facility.

“We have to start addressing the tourism foundation this province has. We’ve got to get away from Destination B.C. What’s happened with tourism since (former premier) Gordon Campbell took it into government is an absolute nightmare.”

Brooks has relocated temporarily to Kamloops in hopes of winning the leadership race.

“It’s a very symbolic move. I’m trying to tell the people of B.C. that the Conservatives are serious about rural B.C., about the Interior.”

Last year, he was elected to the party board as a director-at-large. This year, he ran in the provincial election as the Conservative candidate for Nechako Lakes. The party failed to win a single seat.

“Now we have a starting point,” said Brooks, noting a five-fold increase in party membership since 2010. “British Columbians need Conservatives.

“Without us, that election would not have been about the financial management of this province. Just by being there, we took the entire political spectrum to the right, towards conservatism, towards free-market enterprise. That is a valuable thing for the democratic system of British Columbia.”

Vancouver businessman Rick Peterson is the only other declared candidate for the B.C. Conservative leadership, which will be decided April 11.

John Cummins stepped down as party leader in July.

reporter@comoxvalleyrecord.com

 

Just Posted

Comox Valley’s drinking water within lead guidelines, say staff

Residents with old homes may still want testing if concerned about pipes, solder

Denman ferry cable to be replaced with plastic cable – for now

The first flattened steel strand cable is expected to be installed late summer 2020

Police investigate serious assault in downtown Courtenay

This is not believed to be a random incident.

Comox Fire Rescue hands out its hardware at annual awards dinner

Comox Fire Rescue recently held its annual awards night, recognizing members for… Continue reading

B.C. politicians view supermodel’s transition journey on Transgender Day

Liberal MLA Jane Thornthwaite and New Democrat MLA Spencer Chandra Herbert appear in the documentary

My Tech Guys celebrates 13 years in the Comox Valley

On Friday, Nov. 22 My Tech Guys will be holding their annual… Continue reading

VIDEO: B.C. high school’s turf closed indefinitely as plastic blades pollute waterway

Greater Victoria resident stumbles on plastic contamination from Oak Bay High

B.C. mayor urges premier to tweak road speeds in an ‘epidemic of road crash fatalities’

Haynes cites ICBC and provincial documents in letter to John Horgan

Four arrested after report of shots fired in Nanaimo

RCMP arrest four suspects in high-risk takedown in Cedar

South Cariboo Driver hits four cows due to fog

The RCMP’s investigation is ongoing

Comox Valley Pipe Band members salute veterans during final B.C. Lions game of season

Nine members of the Comox Valley Pipe Band Society joined other B.C.… Continue reading

BC Ferries’ two new hybrid vessels set sail for B.C. from Romania

Two Island Class ferries to be in use by 2020

B.C. won’t appeal decision protecting ICBC court experts

Change to evidence rules next to save money, David Eby says

Most Read