After a week of controversy, B.C. Liberals in Abbotsford South acclaimed criminology guru Darryl Plecas as their candidate on Thursday and now look forward to a more positive climate among their ranks.
Teamwork, togetherness and renewal were themes that were brought up repeatedly through the night, by the candidate, acting riding association president Ron Gladiuk and by Finance Minister Mike de Jong.
“I think what I can bring is a strong and determined voice. I will not quit until it’s done, and I will do that in the most respectful of ways. I think you can make that happen . . . by saying, we’re going to that by consensus and we’re going to do it together,” Plecas told those who came out to support him.
The anticipated celebration of Plecas’ acclamation was marred earlier in the week when the six-member riding association executive quit, saying the Liberal campaign team’s appointment of Plecas had been done without their input.
The party maintains that Abbotsford city Coun. Moe Gill, the man the executive had been backing, had signed papers for the Abbotsford-Mission riding, but Gill says he was bullied into the signing them.
With that issue hanging in the air Thursday evening, riding members said it’s time to heal and move forward in a unified manner.
“This is Abbotsford South, this is positive,” said Gladiuk to the audience of about 140 Liberals, some with signs reading ‘we support Darryl.’
Gladiuk made the effort to point out several long-time local party stalwarts in the audience “who unselfishly give of their time and effort for and on behalf of the community. This is how we do things, we do it right, with passion.”
Plecas, too, acknowledged the controversy when he thanked supporters for attending, “especially since the last few days have been somewhat difficult.”
He moved on to focus on B.C. Liberal government successes in the economy and other areas, such as criminal justice, his area of expertise.
“Just as we have a very proud record of economics to look at, it’s also true in the area of public safety. Nobody has crushed crime to the degree we have here in British Columbia – that’s not an opinion, that is an absolute fact,” said Plecas.
Eight years ago, the Liberals established the Crime Reduction Secretariat, which led to the “single best track record of any government in the western world in terms of reducing crime . . . a spectacular success,” he said. In Abbotsford, “the crime reduction rate is literally twice the national average, and more than twice national average in the United States,” he added.
The province, and the Liberal Party, has many successes that form a “rock solid track record” that is the envy of other provinces and even other countries, said Plecas, but there is always room for improvement.
His comments revealed a “can do” attitude to bringing about renewal and improvements to both government and the party.
“Yes, there’s things that are wrong in the Liberal Party . . . but let’s fix those things and make the whole damn thing that much better.”
Plecas holds the RCMP University Research Chair, at the University of the Fraser Valley, where he has taught criminology courses for 30 years. He is the recipient of several teaching awards, has offered his expertise nationally and globally on crime and criminal justice, and is also on in-house judge at the federal prison, Kent Institution.
The next local Liberal riding nomination will be for the Abbotsford-Mission riding, currently held by MLA Randy Hawes, who is retiring from politics. Mission Coun. Tony Luck and Abbotsford Coun. Simon Gibson are the two contenders. Riding members will make their selection on Dec. 6 from 4 – 8 p.m. at the Best Western Mission City Lodge.