Still hope for BC Liberals: Dalton

Mission's two MLAs, Randy Hawes and Marc Dalton, hosted a breakfast last Friday

The cabinet reshuffling, high-profile retirements and the BC Liberals chances at winning the next provincial election dominated the conversation at last Friday’s MLA breakfast in Mission.

Maple Ridge-Mission MLA Marc Dalton, and Abbotsford-Mission MLA Randy Hawes, who announced his intention to retire at the meeting, spoke to a crowd of about 35 people at Cedarbrooke Chateau.

The event was highlighted by Hawes’ officially declaring that he will not seek re-election in 2013, not surprising many as he had said in 2009 that it would likely be his last term.

“It’s been a real honour to serve the community for 20 years, and I will miss it,” he said.

Hawes continued by commenting on initiatives he aims to complete before leaving office, including making CPR training mandatory in schools, dredging the Fraser River and fighting against propane cannons.

“There’s no cost to government and [CPR] saves lives; it’s a no-brainer,” said Hawes, but admits it has been puzzlingly difficult to get this approved. “It’s been like pushing string up a hill.”

A local logging company has been unable to float its logs down the Fraser due to siltation, and the three-term MLA said it would only take three to four days to dredge out a channel. The alternative is to truck the logs at a cost of $15,000, and this also adds more commercial vehicles onto the roadways.

“Propane cannons are a life destroyer,” he said. Many families have moved away from the incessant sound.

“I don’t understand why they’re called a normal farming practice.”

Dalton spoke about the economy and said the message has been the same for nine years: invest in small business so it can expand and create more jobs.

The first-term MLA was named as the parliamentary secretary for independent schools after the cabinet shuffling, and admitted the BC Liberals are “not sitting too pretty in the polls right now.”

But he hasn’t lost faith that the Liberals can win again, and said “from a political perspective there is hope.”

Attendee Mike Scudder asked how the party can get past its errors and win the election.

Dalton said the NDP aren’t polling higher than before, it’s more that the centre-right vote is being split by the introduction of the BC Conservative Party.

“Your voice will be better heard if we stand together.”