the role of government generally: job grants, old age assistance, and the need to cut government red tape.
There thus appears to be a healthy strand of business liberalism within the provincial party. Despite the Liberals' disunity over some questions that present differing views of the power of business and unions, they were united in being favourably disposed towards the value of private property and suspicious of unions when the balance of power between management and unions is not at issue. Although united in their opposition to the national Conservative government's Free Trade Agreement, they still wanted freer trade with the United States.
A welfare liberalism element also exists in the provincial party. Although the Liberal delegates are divided on specific welfare issues, they are united in supporting the general idea of welfare programs. The division over specific welfare programs stands in contrast to the Liberals' united support of other social policy initiatives such as medicare, education spending, and publicly supported daycare.
What are we to make of this pattern of internal division and cohesion? The tension between welfare and business liberalism certainly appears in other provinces and characterizes the national Liberal party as well ( Christian and Campbell 1983; Blake 1988; Johnston 1988). However, there is a continuum between those issues which divide and those which unite Liberal activists in British Columbia which appears somewhat unusual. At one end are questions that look something like left versus right questions -- these evoke division. At the other extreme are issues relating to Canadian nationalism. However, the apparent cohesion on conceptions of the national community may simply be a function of the place of BC Liberals on issues such as Meech Lake and the free trade deal which are rather more divisive in the national party as a whole.
The heterogeneity amongst the Liberal activists on left/right issues is distinctive. This suggests that in the context of polarized provincial politics, there exists a group of activists whose opinions fit between the two major parties but overlap them as well. While, on average, the Liberal activists proved to be closer to the NDP than the Social Credit party especially regarding opinions of government regulation and social policy, there is a degree of fiscal conservatism and support for free enterprise which distinguishes the Liberals from the NDP activists and places them closer to the Socreds. Liberals