Renee
Credit: Darren Hull

Renee Merrifield is hoping to win Kelowna-Mission for the BC Liberals

The party will look to some high-profile community names in hopes of a return to power

This is a pivotal election for the BC Liberal Party. After coming in as the favourite and narrowly missing out on forming government last time around, the party comes into this contest as the presumptive underdog.

The current government, led by Premier John Horgan and the BC NDP, has received mostly positive reviews for its handling of the COVID-19 pandemic and had favourable ratings before the virus. Even though British Columbians reportedly aren’t on board with Horgan’s decision to call a snap election during the pandemic, the incumbents are favoured to win a majority government this time around.

With their backs up against the wall, the Liberals recently announced a plethora of candidates for various ridings across the province. Given the party’s strong business ties, it’s no surprise to see a plethora of entrepreneurs in the mix.

In North Vancouver–Lonsdale, ’Lyn Anglin, former president and CEO of Geoscience BC, will try to beat NDP incumbent Bowinn Ma in a riding that, before Ma’s win in 2017, was a Liberal stronghold for years. Anglin recently won the Canadian Institute of Mining, Metallurgy and Petroleum’s (CIM) Distinguished Lecturer award for her work overseeing the Mount Polley mine remediation effort.

Up north in Cariboo-Chilcotin, former Black Press publisher and current IG Wealth Management consultant Lorne Doerkson aims to succeed Liberal Donna Barnett, who announced in January that she wouldn’t be running again. The riding has gone Liberal every election since its creation in 2009.

Local small business owner and energy sector professional Trevor Halford also hopes to fill a vacant Liberal seat, in Surrey–White Rock, a riding that’s never gone anything but blue. Previous MLA Tracy Redies gave up her seat to become CEO of Science World.

Maple Ridge city councillor Chelsa Meadus, who co-founded local cash management firm ATM Token Group Holdings, is looking to unseat NDP MLA Bob D’Eith in Maple Ridge–Mission. D’Eith narrowly captured the riding last time around, winning by just over 300 votes.

Vancouver entrepreneur Alex Read faces a significantly tougher challenge in Vancouver-Hastings, where he’ll try to become the first Liberal ever to win the riding. Read served as  CEO and COO of Well Health Technologies Corp. before joining CEFA Early Learning as chief executive in January 2019. He launched his own business, Make Anything Work, in 2007. 

Besides former Vancouver city councillor George Affleck, the Liberals’ biggest name announced so far might just be Renee Merrifield. Merrifield, CEO of Kelowna real estate giant Troika Developments, is running to replace outgoing Liberal MLA Steve Thomson in Kelowna-Mission. The riding has only voted for a non-Liberal once, in 1991, when it was called Okanagan West and went to the now-defunct Social Credit party.

Merrifield’s previous foray into politics didn’t go so well: last year, she lost the federal Conservative nomination in Kelowna–Lake Country to eventual winner Tracy Gray. 

In any case, even those BC Liberals in spots that have traditionally been friendly to the party might be under the gun with the Liberals lagging in polls overall. Or, you know, everything might change in a month.