Libertarians look ahead to B.C. election

BC Libertarian Party leader favours legalizing sale of drugs and sex, selling BC Hydro, highways and BC Ferries

B.C. Libertarian Party leader Clayton Welwood

They want to scrap the Agricultural Land Reserve and the minimum wage, sell BC Hydro and open ICBC up to private competition, and they’re hoping the turmoil in the United States will get them on the map in the next B.C. election.

The B.C. Libertarian Party elected North Vancouver resident Clayton Welwood as their leader at a convention on the Thanksgiving weekend. Runner-up Josh Steffler of Esquimalt was appointed deputy leader, and both plan to run in their home towns in the May 2017 election.

Welwood said the party has about 100 paid-up members, 35 of whom met in Vancouver on the weekend from as far away as Cranbrook and Fort Fraser. They’re encouraged by stronger-than-usual showing by U.S. Libertarian Party leader Gary Johnson, whose poll numbers have crept into double digits in some states amid discontent with Republican nominee Donald Trump and Democrat Hillary Clinton.

Other B.C. parties are also hoping to capitalize on voter fatigue with mainstream politics. The B.C. Green Party nominated former Nelson councillor Kim Charlesworth to run in Nelson-Creston on the weekend, looking to expand the party’s support beyond the urban southwest.

B.C. Conservatives have chosen Dan Brooks to return as their leader for the 2017 election, after he quit the job early this year.

Welwood, a 38-year-old cost controller for an international construction company, said the Libertarians’ individual-freedom philosophy will be extended to issues such as housing affordability as the platform is finalized.

“It seems every time there’s a problem, the solution always seems to be heavy-handed government intervention, even if taxes and red tape are partly or largely responsible for that problem in the first place,” Welwood said.

The party’s draft platform calls for removing restrictions on sale of alcohol, narcotics and sex, and privatizing B.C.’s highways and ferry services.


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