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Jim Doyle defects to the Liberals Jim Doyle

GOLDEN — After 35 years of belonging to the New Democrat Party (NDP), Golden’s Mayor, Jim Doyle has officially joined the Liberal party.

He says it’s a decision that has been a long-time coming, and it wasn’t an easy one to make.

“It’s a personal thing,” he quietly explains. “I did this as an individual. This is one of the things we do; we don’t know the road that life takes us. It’s a very personal decision over the last number of months.”

Doyle relates the change to that of becoming a Canadian citizen. Raised in Ireland, he says when he was younger he figured he’d always be an Irish citizen. Later in life he moved to Australia, and eventually came to Canada.

He’d not anticipated becoming a Canadian citizen when he was a young man.

But Doyle says he’s been thinking about joining the Liberals for some time, and his decision was finalized when the provincial government showed leadership with the Tsawwassen Indian Band Treaty. He says the opposition party (NDP) didn’t take any public position on the matter, even though they said they would.

“I’ve been in Canada 40 years and B.C. has a sad record of dealing with First Nations land claims,” Doyle explains. “I feel the premier showed a lot of leadership on this and has come many miles in the last five or six years as premier. As long as you’re learning from mistakes and he has admitted his stand of yesterday. He’s learned from it.”

There was a time when Premier Gordon Campbell was very opposed to the Nisga’a reserve and voted against it, Doyle explains.

Land claim issues are dear to Doyle’s heart. He says the province must get on with getting settlements in place, and the opposition’s lack of movement on the issue has really bothered him.

He officially began carrying the Liberal card two weeks ago.

“Most people in Canada or B.C. don’t belong to political parties, but I’m one of those people who follows the political scene all over the world,” he explains. “I feel that I have to have a card in my pocket. No party could govern for all of the people, but I think they’re doing the best under the Gordon Campbell leadership.”

As a keen observer of the political scene, he felt bit by bit he was getting more of his answers - a clear direction of positive leadership - from ‘the government of the day.’

At the same time, he says he couldn’t see the opposition party as an alternate government, in terms of positioning. He says Campbell is taking on important issues, and the Tsawwassen issue was the most recent.

In terms of his future, Doyle isn’t saying much.

“I’m a new boy in the B.C. Liberal party; honestly, that’s where I’m at,” he says. “For me to say that I want to run (in the next provincial election)would be wrong because I just joined.”

As for how voters will respond to Doyle’s decision in the next municipal election, in November of next year, he says he’s leaving it ‘up to the people’.

“In Golden, I remain as an individual and I’m sure people have voted for or against me because of my political lines,” he explains. “Golden is a small town and there will be people saying they’re sorry to see me make this decision, and others will say ‘welcome to this camp’.”

Word of Doyle’s decision was heard on radio stations throughout the province, as well as in newspapers on the coast. He says while he kept the decision quiet - talking about it only with his close friends and family, he hopes his colleagues and neighbours can respect his decision.

“I’m sorry I didn’t tell anyone. It was a very personal decision,” Doyle explains. “I would hope that people can respect my personal decision. It was a very big step for me and that’s why I took some time in reaching it.”

Mardy Bacigalupo is the editor of the Golden Star

MARDY BACIGALUPO

Golden Star

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