(9am on September 17, 2016)
Thank you to the BC Conservative Party for allowing me to run in this election.
Today, I do not represent the 2000+ active BC Conservative Party members or the five percent of voters from the 2013 BC general election who voted for a Conservative Candidate. Rather, I represent the 95 percent of voters from across the Province who did not vote for the conservatives in 2013 who would appreciate having another option if the party addresses some of its internal structural challenges.
In my platform for this leadership election, I identify three problems that we need to address offer relevant solutions to each. I outline my platform on my website, www.jaycross.ca.
Our first problem is financial. Our Party has no money. We need money to win elections. My solution to this problem is to develop a fundraising program.
Our second problem concerns recruitment. Our Party has 2000+ members. However, 85,000 people voted for a conservative candidate in 2013. Without voters becoming members, we have no capacity for communicating or controlling our message, we lose significant membership revenue, and we lack voter input and ideas.
Lack of diversity within our party may be an explanation for why conservatives do not become Party members. Early on in this election, I learned that one of our members had left the party because the four candidates were all White. I have since met with this individual and convinced him to rejoin the Party. In fact, he has decided to run as a conservative MLA candidate in 2017. I also came across numerous newspaper articles (1, 2, 3) that described our Party as an Old Boys Network comprised of mainly elderly white men.
With diversity in mind, one way that I will address Party recruitment problems is to develop and implement a Diversity and Inclusion Policy. I will also see that key Party documents translated into other languages so these documents are accessible to individuals whose first language is not English.
A third problem for this Party involves retention. Over forty percent of members who join the Party leave the Party. It is difficult to grow party at that rate. Specifically, for a party of 2000 members, it will take 16–17 years to double its size.
My solution to our retention problem is to develop a member engagement program. I will also implement exit and stay interviews.
I would like to further my points on recruitment and diversity.
This year I marched and represented our Party and diversity in the 38th annual Vancouver Pride Parade. [Show audience my parade shirt with the rainbow and "Diversity Rules" emblems.] I would like to give a shout-out to the LGBTTQ community and give thanks to the Vancouver Pride Society for putting on this event. I would also like to give a special thank–you to the Vancouver Sisters of Perpetual Indulgence and the same–sex couples that Sister Festivus Illuminata was going to marry at the Pride Festival later that day for allowing me to march with them. I felt extremely welcomed by the Sisters and the Pride Community and proud to represent the BC Conservative Party at this important event.
I think it is important for the BC Conservative Party to support diverse communities in BC. Parades and festivals are some ways that we can do that and ways of bringing our Party to the attention of people across BC.
Video exerpt from the 38th annual Vancouver Pride Parade, July 31, 2016 (Video Source: DaxTubeTV).
Federal and Ontario provincial conservatives marching in the 36th annual Toronto Pride Parade, July 3, 2016 (Image Source: The Huffington Post.)
For the August 6, 2017, 39th annual Vancouver Pride Parade, I volunteered with the Vancouver Pride Society as an MC assistant to an international celebrity drag queen performer named Conni Smudge (aka Chris). Mz. Smudge is a highly talented individual who provided commentary on the parade floats and entertained crowds with her whit, charm, lip-synching, dancing and dynamic, unscripted, unpredictable interactions with parade participants. Although the Vancouver Pride Parade was an incredible experience in and of itself, Mz. Smudge’s performance put it over the top. Officially, she was a parade MC. Unofficially, she was the ambassador that day for all things good in humanity and a cultural translator and promoter for numerous diverse communities — often hidden in plain sight — that many people in Vancouver were meeting for the first time. I am honored to have been Mz. Smudge’s assistant and grateful to the Vancouver Pride Society for giving me the opportunity.
During her performance, Mz. Smudge moved between the Safeway store balcony at corner of Robson and Denman and the street. While she was at street level, I met a number of marchers that I knew personally. I greeted several Elections BC co-workers with whom I had worked on Election Day. I also shook hands with Reverend Mother Diversity Rains of the Vancouver Sisters of Perpetual Indulgence (I met the Reverend Mother during my leadership campaign last year) who expressed her profound gratitude to all Vancouver Pride Society volunteers for their work in support of the Vancouver Pride Parade. Finally, this year a small group of representatives from the Conservative Party of Canada and the BC Conservative Party marched together in the Vancouver Pride Parade. Below is a photo of the conservative marchers at the corner of Denman and Haro Streets.
Federal and BC provincial conservatives marching in the 39th annual Vancouver Pride Parade, August 6, 2017.