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First candidate for BC Conservative leadership steps up

Former provincial candidate Dan Brooks announced his bid today to become the next leader of the BC Conservative Party.

The businessman and father of seven was elected as the party's provincial director at the annual general meeting last September. He also ran unsuccessfully in the Nechako Lakes riding in the May provincial election, an election in which the Conservatives failed to win any seats.

"That of course is a disappointment," Brooks said of his party's poor showing. "We learned a great deal. Now that we've been through that process, the learning curve isn't quite as steep. We're going to be better."

Brooks said he has been a resident of Vanderhoof, B.C., most of his life. He owns and operates Crystal Lake resort, a hunting and fishing lodge, there. With the tourist season winding down, said Brooks, he moved to Kamloops in order to focus on his campaign.

Brooks told The Tyee he plans to appeal to rural British Columbians, who are "particularly conservative-minded."

"We appeal a great deal to fiscal conservatives," said Brooks. "I like to say I'm a fiscal conservative with a social conscience. I believe our government needs to take social responsibility. I don't identify myself as a social conservative."

Brooks said he wants to focus on economic development, particularly resource development, in rural areas, but said it was premature to discuss specific policies or ideas. Resource development has to take into account regional and local concerns, he said, "something the Liberals have greatly neglected."

Brooks said he is aware of several other people interested in running for party leadership, but wouldn't name names. Former leader John Cummins, who took the helm in 2011, stepped down in July.

The vote for the next BC Conservative leader will take place at the party's leadership convention April 11, 2014.

Colleen Kimmett is an editor at The Tyee.

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