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BC Liberals vote to keep party's name

Delegates to the BC Liberal convention in Kelowna were nearly unanimous in defeating a motion to look into changing the party's name.

"We are a party that's inclusive and we rally around that free enterprise banner that we're all so proud of," said former B.C. cabinet minister and federal Liberal Colin Hansen introducing the debate.

The idea has been kicking around the party for 20 years and along with Skeena's Donny van Dyk and Parksville-Qualicum member Paula Peterson he's been looking at it over the past year or so.

A re-branding would be expensive and come with some risk, Hansen said. "I don't know of any example where a party that's in government has changed it's name. That's something I think people should consider."

He also noted he's yet to hear a good candidate for a new name, with many possibilities already taken, even if whoever is using them is only doing the minimum to meet the requirements of the elections law.

When debate was opened to the floor, seven lined up at the 'opposed' microphone and just one to speak in favour.

Bill Bennett, the MLA for Kootenay East and the energy minister, said that while he'd had some resistance to the name in the past, it's not time to change. "My reaction is what the hell are we thinking? We just won our fourth consecutive election."

Scott van Dyk, a delegate from Skeena, said that free enterprisers should be trying to do better than to keep a brand that is merely adequate. "The name 'BC Liberals' doesn't reflect who we are," he said.

Natural gas minister Rich Coleman said when he first got involved in politics it was with the Social Credit party. "Nobody knew what the name meant, they just knew it was a free enterprise coalition," he said.

The party should keep its name, he said. "It's a good brand. We can win in 2017 with the BC Liberal label."

Former BC Conservative Party candidate John Martin, now a BC Liberal MLA, said he supports keeping the name now though he wouldn't have two years ago. "If it ain't broke don't fix it," he said. "It would be the most foolish thing for the party to do." With few dissenting ballots delegates voted not to be foolish.

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

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