Saying it’s both a chance to give back to the country that took him in as a kid and an opportunity to shake up provincial politics, Victoria developer Stan Sipos has jumped into the provincial Liberal party’s leadership race.
Sipos, 68, said it’s about time a non-politician got into the mix and showed the parties what’s possible with a little hard work.
“I think we need someone that can step up and say enough is enough,” said Sipos, noting he’s watched the health care system collapse under the weight of the pandemic, and housing issues plague B.C.’s major centres.
“I think we need someone that just is not used to what a typical politician would do or say, but just does everything possible to enhance the economic and lifestyle opportunity for all of us.
“I think I can actually go in there as a regular guy with my life experience of doing things where you have to do it and things are on the line and actually make a positive change.”
Sipos is a little late to the race, which includes Kevin Falcon, Michael Lee, Renee Merrifield, Val Litwin, Ellis Ross and Gavin Dew. The party has already held two leadership debates.
He understands he is up against it as the other candidates have been signing up members around the province for months now, but Sipos believes his message will resonate.
“We are on the phones, we’re touching base and it’s resonating with people,” he said. “People are getting to know us. And, you know, we’re completely different from any politician that they have run into currently.”
Sipos, who was born in the former Yugoslavia and came to Canada as a young boy with his father, is the first to say he’s not a politician. He goes further to suggest he’s not the kind of guy who follows partisan lines.
He boasts shades and streaks of green, conservative and liberal and is adamant that he’s not anti-NDP.
“The reality is the Liberal party has lost the faith and the enthusiasm of the general population,” he said. “But the party is made up of a whole group of ideological stripes. I’m not left and I’m not right.”
His platform does tend to cover the political spectrum.
Sipos would stop old-growth logging entirely, establish B.C. as a global leader in climate change and ensure the province leads as a global green business capital, hold big business accountable for inflation, cut red tape, extract natural resources in such a way as to ensure there is value added, train more doctors and nurses and fix inefficient processes at all levels of government.
Sipos said people are fed up with politicians and want someone who actually makes things happen when in power.
“I understand what it’s like to be on the street. I know what it’s like to work for a living. You know what I mean?” Sipos said. “I did come to this country as an immigrant. I left home at 16, and it was hard work and the grace of God that allowed me to pursue my dreams and achieve them somehow.”
Sipos dismissed the idea that those who have been in the trenches would quickly get frustrated by the sometimes convoluted political process to get things done.
“It could be no more frustrating than doing a building like Customs House,” he said of his $100 million development being finished at the corner of Government and Wharf Streets in downtown Victoria.
Sipos, a member of the Canadian Drag Racing Hall of Fame, said time is the most valuable thing he can offer and it’s his time to “give back and to bring positive change.”
He also said he doesn’t see it as a long-term project. Just a few years in opposition before leading the party to government.
“Who wants to be a politician? I’m not interested in being a politician,” he said. “I’m not looking for a pension. … I’m not looking for fame or fortune. I couldn’t care about being someone important. I’m just a guy who has had a tremendous break to be here.”
Eligible Liberal party members will elect a new leader in February.