Watts makes P.G. stop on Liberal campaign tour

Liberal leadership candidate DIanne Watts says It's time to reboot the B.C. Liberal Party and she's the one to do it.

The former mayor of Surrey and MP for South Surrey - White Rock was in Prince George on Monday, promoting her bid for the job of leadership of the opposition. The B.C. Liberals will elect a new leader on Feb. 3.

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"I offer the B.C. Liberals a fresh start," Watts said.

While good work was done by the former Liberal government, she said, "there was a level of frustration" by the voting public which resulted in the loss of 11 seats in the 2016 election.

She said her experience building coalitions and leading a government in Surrey would help her to unify the Liberals and present a united front in the next provincial election.

Her experience in local government has taught her that one-size-fits-all solutions don't work for B.C., she said.

"Every community is unique, and every community has unique issues," Watts said. "As a former mayor... we deal with things on the front line. We deal with homelessness, we deal with crime, we deal with first responders."

Supporting local leaders and communities to develop local solutions to local programs is key, she said.

B.C. municipalities have limited options when it comes to raising funds, she said, and it may be time to consider giving municipalities more tools to allow them to meet their needs.

However some of the common threads she has heard while travelling B.C. are concerns about health care and affordability.

While the Liberal party in B.C. is the party of business and entrepreneurship, she said, it's also important to focus on social programs to meet the needs of British Columbians.

In order to achieve that, the province will require a strong, stable government - something that is unlikely under a proportional representation system. The NDP have pledged to hold a mail-in-ballot referendum this year on changing the province's electoral system.

Watts said the NDP are jumping the gun and should first ask voters if they want the province's electoral system changed. Then, with a mandate of the people, gather public input and present voters with a number of options.

"It should be decided by the people."

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