Mike de Jong was acclaimed as the B.C. Liberal candidate for the Abbotsford West riding by a boisterous, supportive crowd of close to 300 people on Wednesday night.
Vying for his sixth term, the provincial finance minister shared the stage in Abbotsford with Premier Christy Clark, who was there to sing de Jong's praises and to rally the troops.
"He's a passionate, hardworking MLA who knows in his heart he has to stand up for working people in B.C.
"Abbotsford is blessed to have Mike de Jong in office," said Clark.
De Jong said it was an easy decision to run for his sixth term.
"I'm not going anywhere. I am damn proud of the record of this government," he said.
After the quick show of hands and cheers were done, the nomination meeting morphed into a campaign rally. Clark called on the diverse audience members to prepare for the Liberals' "toughest [political] tournament since 1996."
Like dedicated hockey parents, "I want you to show up, I want you to show up for free enterprise," she said.
Clark cited the province's $80 billion in exports, a 25 per cent increase in trade with China, the lowest unemployment and personal income taxes in Canada, and the highest building permits since 2007.
"We're saying our policies are leading Canada, leading in North America and we want to take them into the future," de Jong added.
In defending their claim to be the champions of free enterprise, de Jong said there is a significant difference between his party and the New Democrats.
"None of this is theoretical anymore. We know on the basis of two experiments, that when the NDP comes to power, the energy sector and the mining sector disappears in British Columbia. We know that happens, that's not a free enterprise solution."
In the crowd of Liberal supporters were candidate hopefuls Tony Luck, Laurie Throness and John Martin. Luck hopes to take the Liberal nomination for Abbotsford-Mission, Thorness will run for the job in the Chilliwack-Hope riding, while Martin, who defected from the B.C. Conservatives last month, hopes to be the Liberal candidate in Chilliwack.
Martin admits the B.C. Liberals had become "fractured" but organizers are working to give people a reason to come back, he said.
"The B.C. Liberal tent is big enough to accommodate small-C conservatives like me," said Martin.