Former British Columbia Liberal leader Andrew Wilkinson may have announced his official letter of resignation last Wednesday, but there's already candidates coming forward to replace him.
Ellis Ross, MLA for Skeena on the North Coast, is the first candidate to throw his hat in the ring. Ross was the first Liberal to win the Skeena riding in 16 years when he was elected to the Legislature back in 2017. Prior to his election, he served as chief councillor for the Haisla Nation. During this time, he signed off on a multi-million agreement with Kitimat LNG to build a natural gas plant on one of the Haisla Nation reserves. He remains an firm advocate of natural resource development as a means of curbing indigenous poverty.
“If B.C. is looking for a different path, a different attitude, a different mentality then maybe I should throw my hat in the ring,” he said on Global TV . “It’s out there now. So I will be putting my name in.”
Ross continued on about his political journey in the BC assembly. “It’s been quite a journey to get here because I am not a politician. I’m not even educated. I’m just a regular band member that just, by some stroke of luck, was kept out of the social issues, for the most part, that plague Aboriginals all across Canada.”
Last summer, he also described his own experiences with racism: “Being born and raised on reserve as a light-skinned, green-eyed kid and now with no hair, I’ve had to deal with both sides of the race question."
Ross briefly served as minister for natural gas development and minister responsible for housing before Christy Clark's Liberal government was replaced by a minority New Democrat administration in 2017. Despite the sweep by the NDP last October, Ross maintained the support of 52.1% of his riding, an almost insignificant difference from the 52.2% he received in 2017.
In the past, Ross had spoken to TBT about the importance of establishing elective chief systems in indigenous communities.
"In this day and age, it’s ridiculous that power is not yet held by the people among many indigenous communities. How can we as Canadians not have the right to choose our leadership structure? The government is steering us towards continued hereditary rule where we will never gain a say. It’s astounding that this conversation is not happening, especially when a leadership vote is so omnipresent in all levels of Canadian society—from our provincial and federal representatives to our school board members. And yet, among the First Nations, we continuously tread towards monarchy. It is incredible to think that in one of the most democratic countries, we’re seeing monarchy imposed by democracy," he stated.
Acting Liberal party leader Don Silversides has said that the leadership vote will be set for no later than February 16, 2022.
Ellis Ross is a card carrying member of the Conservative Party of Canada.
Just to clarify the BC Liberals are different and not connected to the Trudeau Liberals.
Please stay tuned for tomorrow night Facebook live feed as we host Ellis .