Dan Brooks says his election to replace John Cummins as leader of the B.C. Conservative Party represents a break from the “old guard” and a new era of stability for a party mainly known for in-fighting.
Brooks, 38, took 62% of the approximately 1,150 party members who voted. He defeated Rick Peterson, a 59-year-old investment banker who was endorsed by Cummins.
“It was a great blessing to me when John Cummins and that crew endorsed Rick,” Brooks said Monday. “At that very moment, quite frankly, I thought ‘I’ve just won this.’ And I think they misjudged the depth of feeling in the party.”
A former guide-outfitter, Brooks handed over his resort business near Vanderhoof to a partner and relocated to Kamloops to pursue his political career. He hopes to appeal to urban voters by emphasizing the steep increase in B.C.’s debt in the Christy Clark era of B.C. Liberal rule.
Brooks agrees with Clark’s emphasis on liquefied natural gas development, but says there is a “myopic” focus on one strategy while problems continue in forestry, mining and regions outside the north.
Brooks opposes revenue sharing agreements with aboriginal groups, which the B.C. Liberal government has extended from forests to mining and most recently to LNG development.
“I think we have to resolve land claims definitely, not this indefinite accommodate and consult that really just perpetuates this uncertainty problem that we face,” Brooks said. “I know a lot of Conservatives don’t share this view, but I personally don’t have a problem with settling land claims by giving First Nations land.”
The government’s proposal to divide the agricultural land reserve into two zones is a good step, but it doesn’t go far enough, Brooks said. The provincial economy suffers with 95% of all land owned by the province.
“Imagine if you opened that up and started selling public land to private individuals, settled land claims with first nations by giving them some land, imagine what it would do for our economy?” Brooks said.