Co-anchoring with MLA Linda Larson for a BC Liberal Party Women’s Network event was former CTV British Columbia co-anchor Pamela Martin.
Around 15 people, mostly ladies, attended the Women Leading the Way at Medici’s Gelateria on Oct. 15.
Asked if she has a preferred NDP challenger in next year’s provincial election, Larson said no, although her platform will probably vary depending on who wins that nomination.
“I just need to keep doing my job,” she said. “I’ll take it as it comes, develop my platform accordingly, and whoever I’m up against – they’ll have to do a better job than me if they want to win.”
Because Larson’s the incumbent, she expects to bear the brunt of attacks from challengers during the upcoming election campaign.
There won’t be a single defining issue in the riding of South Okanagan-Similkameen, since the jurisdiction includes 18 different communities, said Larson.
The nature of campaigning in a rural riding means that voters from Osoyoos aren’t likely to care much about issues in specific to Grand Forks, and vice-versa, she said.
However, issues concerning the environment are important to voters in every community, she said.
Since 2011, Martin has been working as the director of engagement for the BC Liberal Party.
She told the crowd that it’s important to keep Larson as another strong female voice in the Liberal caucus.
“She’s an excellent MLA who’s very in touch with the riding,” Martin said. “She’s a good listener and hard worker.”
Because of the near closure of Osoyoos Secondary School earlier in 2016, Martin suspects that school closures will be a local issue in the 2017 election.
“She brought the issue of Osoyoos Secondary closing to the government and ultimately got it saved. And she also serves as the parliamentary secretary for rural education.”
Martin said the party’s women’s network is about having female members sitting at the table to figure out how they can engage the government most effectively.
She lauded the strong involvement BC Liberals have with women, citing Clark as first female premier of the province as well as the Liberal cabinet she noted is heavily staffed with women.
Larson’s address had a contrasting tone. Although she’s proud of the amount of progress women have in politics, she said there’s far more to go.
As an example she criticized the disparity in pay, saying women earn just 72 cents on the dollar compared to men who do the same job.
Larson said women in politics add a social component to discussions that are often missed by their male counterparts.
She said the Liberal Party would be made stronger with more women, as they add a unique sense of optimism and bring an enthusiastic, out-of-the-box style of thinking to the table.
However, she admits that women are too often judgmental of one another without any good reason and they hate negativity, which can deter them from getting involved in politics.
“Women can be their own worst enemy,” she said
And she feels as though women face discrimination and hypercriticism in politics, mentioning how American presidential nominee Hillary Clinton is an extremely qualified woman running a clean campaign, yet she faces constant attacks over her husband Bill’s sexual misconduct allegations.
Larson said she isn’t immune to those challenges, although the support from her family overcompensates when opponents and members of the public go on the attack.
One of the attendees hoping to see Larson hold down the riding was Darlene Freding, who’s noticed a stark economic difference between NDP and Liberal governments.
During the last NDP majority, her daughter graduated school in British Columbia, couldn’t find work and had to move to Alberta – but eventually meaningful employment in BC when the Liberals were in office.
“Unlike Justin Trudeau, you can’t spend your way out of a deficit,” he said.
Also, Freding is impressed by Clark’s rise to power, as she headed into the 2013 election campaign with waning support yet managed to win with a majority.
“She really stood on her own through the last election,” she said.
Larson expects five to eight debates throughout the riding before the 2017 election and she said she never misses any.