A former New Democratic minister and MLA has endorsed BC United because rural B.C. has “no voice” in the current government.
Harry Lali, who served as transportation minister from 1998 to 2001 and represented two rural ridings in southwestern B.C. during two separate periods, said in a statement Thursday morning (May 11) that his former party has become an urban-interest party.
“Having only a handful of rural MLAs, the (NDP) has little to no interest in the issues and challenges facing small communities,” he said in lamenting the lack of doctors, ER closures and mill closures among other issues.
“They’ve allowed sawmills and pulp mills to shut down by the dozen and workers have lost their livelihoods by the thousands due to inaction.
“By contrast, downtown urban cores have become overcrowded, congested, unaffordable and unliveable.”
He added that government should be looking at what he called “innovative ways” to bolster the small-town economy and provide incentives for urban folks to relocate there in easing pressure on cities.
Lali, who was in the legislature Thursday, said he will be joining BC United because he likes the direction of BC United under Kevin Falcon.
“He is expanding his universe to include people from the (centre) and (centre-left) as well; people like me,” Lali said. “Kevin Falcon cares about small business and about the working people of this province. Kevin Falcon cares about the economy and rebuilding the neglected infrastructure in every region of British Columbia, including (rural) B.C.”
Lali, who ran for the leadership of the NDP in 2011 by appealing to “older, white males” before dropping out, served some 18 years in the legislature, including almost 14 years as MLA for Yale-Lillooet from 1991 to 2001 and from 2005 to 2009 and four years in the riding of Fraser-Nicola from 2009 to 2013.
The Yale-Lillooet riding was one of the province’s original 12 electoral areas, but was replaced in 2009 by the three ridings of Fraser-Nicola, Chilliwack-Hope and Boundary Similkameen.
BC United MLA Jackie Tegart defeated Lali in 2013 and 2017. Lali, who represented the party in 2017 against the objections of former NDP leader John Horgan, was kicked out of the NDP in 2020.