Mike de Jong takes Liberal leadership bid to Abbotsford
British Columbia needs a new salesman and Mike de Jong is applying for the job.
The Abbotsford West MLA and Liberal leadership candidate spoke Monday morning to a crowd of 300 supporters at the Ramada Plaza and Conference Centre.
The breakfast meeting was part of his Open Mike tour throughout the province.
“This is a job application process decided by the people ... the premier needs to be the province’s top salesman,” de Jong told the crowd.
Pointing to B.C.’s rich natural resources – minerals like coal, copper and zinc, wood products and electricity – de Jong said these assets need to be better utilized.
He called it unacceptable for B.C., which produces electricity, to continue importing it from other areas. He suggested producing “clean, green electricity” and selling it to other areas of North America.
“Let’s do it and have a premier willing to be the salesman.
“I’m a little bit tired of people who are opposed to everything ... let’s be the party with the leader who tells you what we are for.”
De Jong believes the premier’s office needs to be reduced in order to show “we can do more with less.”
He envisions a cabinet of under 20 people.
“That’s not a great way to make friends with colleagues,” he said.
In fact, his fellow MLAs, Randy Hawes (Abbotsford-Mission) and John van Dongen (Abbotsford South), have thrown their support behind rival candidate George Abbot.
“I think the fact that I have close to 10,000 other people who choose to support me, compensates for that,” said de Jong.
He said having a premier from Abbotsford would be good for the city, but added there will be no animosity after the leadership race.
“On Feb. 27, we all need to sit around the campfire as a group and sing Kumbaya.”
Part of de Jong’s plan is to have a government that is more open to the people. He wants to rebuild public trust and one way is to post all MLA expenses online.
“It’s your money. You deserve to know.”
He also said his stand on the HST has not changed. He believes people have the right to vote on the issue and he wants to move that vote up to June, if possible.
“I will be voting in favour of it. It’s sound public policy.”
He told the business-oriented crowd that making money was nothing to be ashamed of.
“In order to be successful, we have to keep thinking ahead.”
He used the B.C. wood industry’s successful partnership with China as an example. De Jong believes in the next five years, Russia will be courting the Chinese to purchase their wood, endangering B.C.’s relationship. He suggested the door was open to begin trading with India.
“Who’s got the vision?” he asked the crowd.
The B.C. Liberal party leadership vote is set for Feb. 26.