Representing the B.C. Conservative party, Dan Brooks was the Nechako-Lakes everyman candidate during last year’s provincial election. A hunting outfitter and business owner hailing from Vanderhoof, Brooks arrives ready to discuss politics or the most recent hunting season, whichever you prefer.
He was through Burns Lake last week to promote his bid for leadership of the B.C. Conservative party. So far, it’s a two-horse race between Brooks and Vancouver-based Rick Peterson.
Born in Vanderhoof, Brooks remains involved with running his family’s business, Crystal Lake Resort, although he’s currently working out of a Kamloops office to run his leadership campaign.
The April 11, 2014 leadership election date leaves a lot of time for the campaign to get off the ground, so that might explain the under-the-radar approach Brooks is taking during this whirlwind Northern B.C. tour. In less than a week, he made stops in Smithers, Terrace, Kitimat, Prince Rupert, and Burns Lake.
“Primarily I’ve been meeting with the membership of the party,” Brooks said. “The membership isn’t very large in the Northwest. I think the majority of the members are the ones I signed up in Nechako-Lakes during the election run.”
Brooks took 12.6 per cent of the popular vote in Nechako-Lakes last year. This proved him to be more popular in this riding than his party was province-wide. Provincially, the B.C. Conservative party took only 4.78 per cent of the popular vote, while failing to capture a single seat despite running more than 50 candidates.
“I’d say [Nechako-Lakes] is a strong conservative riding that votes Liberal,” Brooks said. “Those folks are conservative and they voted Liberal because they don’t like the NDP. They will continue voting that way as long as they don’t have an option. That’s what I’m trying to provide.”
Brooks has promised to move the headquarters of the B.C. Conservative party to Kamloops if he’s elected as party leader, to better represent the importance of Northern B.C. in provincial politics and economics.
“British Columbia’s great natural resource wealth is in the interior, northern and rural parts of the province,” Brooks said. “I believe that elected representatives and decision-makers must devote more time and attention to the opportunities and challenges facing residents living in these parts of B.C.”
“We played an important role in the last election,” he added. “I realize that we didn’t win a single seat, but without the Conservative party, this would have been a choice between NDP and NDP light [the BC Liberal Party].”
“We pulled the entire political spectrum towards the right, towards free enterprise, towards a debt-free B.C., towards those kinds of conservative concepts.”
Although this tour of the Northwest was focussed on those already committed to the party, Brooks wants to reach out to those who may have never considered becoming card-carrying members of a political party.