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BC Liberals debated 18 of 80 resolutions, dropped ferries and poverty

Delegates to the BC Liberal Party convention in Kelowna defeated resolutions related to mental healthcare, childcare and housing affordability.

And motions on ending the clawback of child support payments from single parents' disability cheques, writing a poverty reduction strategy and reducing ferry fares didn't even make it to the floor for debate.

"We're not the party of tax more spend more," Premier Christy Clark told reporters following her keynote address to the convention. "We're the party of grow the economy so that we have more resources so people can have more money in their own pockets to spend and so we have more money to look after people."

Of the 80 resolutions constituency associations and party committees submitted, just 18 were debated in the two hours scheduled for the policy session. Ahead of it each delegate could pick their top five priorities to debate, with the order of debate based on the rankings. Motions on balancing the budget and limiting taxes led the way.

Asked about the failure to get ferry issues debated, Powell River-Sunshine Coast member and former BC Liberal MLA Judy Tyabji said, "Ironically I think the fact that so many ridings submitted resolutions ... it diluted the ferry concentration."

The process for picking resolutions could be improved, she said. "I'm curious to see what comes out of this," she said. "Don't get me wrong, they did a good job, there was a good discussion, but you could tell there were a lot of resolutions where people wanted to vote for them, but the way they were worded they voted against them."

It would be good if the policy committee could combine and improve resolutions, said Tyabji, who noted it was her first convention in 20 years. "Everybody wants an affordable housing strategy, but the wording was a bit awkward."

It was also clear there was appetite for a discussion about BC Ferries issues, she said. "Everybody read all the resolutions because everybody got them in their package, so even if we didn't talk about it here, the point was made that there's an issue," she said.

"Everybody wants to say one big happy family, but some of us will be even happier when we deal with the ferry issue," she said.

"We are engaging in more debate over more issues than I think we did over the last ten years," said Clark, whose leadership received a 98.8 percent vote of approval. "That reflects my view that political parties are a place for debate."

People should have a right to bring forward their views, even if they're controversial, she said, adding "People can belong to our party even if they don't agree with 100 percent of what we're doing."

Andrew MacLeod is The Tyee's Legislative Bureau Chief in Victoria. Find him on Twitter or reach him here.

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