A day after Christy Clark announced she is resigning as BC Liberal leader, one of the party's MLAs says he is considering a run to replace her.
Prominent former TV reporter Jas Johal, first elected to the BC legislature in the spring election that set off events that have ousted the Liberals from power, says he is thinking about a leadership run but has not made any final decisions.
"I think this is a great time to focus on renewal and we need a substantial policy discussion. I am looking forward to that whether I run or not," Mr. Johal said in an interview on Saturday. He is the first of the party's MLAs to announce that he may go for the leadership now that the job is open.
Among the challenges for the BC Liberals, he said, is better connecting with millennial and GenX voters.
He said he is thinking about whether he has the time and energy to completely commit himself to leading the BC Liberals, who have had two leaders – Gordon Campbell and Christy Clark – since they began their 16-year run in government that recently ended.
Ms. Clark led the party into a spring election – her second as premier – which reduced the party to a minority. Last month, the Liberals were defeated on a confidence vote, the Lieutenant-Governor then asked the NDP to form the government and Premier John Horgan was sworn in earlier this month.
Mr. Johal, 47, who is married and has an eight-year-old son also said he is considering the impact on his family.
"There's a lot to think about," he said. He was a journalist for 23 years, working for Global Television in BC, Beijing and New Delhi. Before seeking and winning the riding of Richmond-Queensborough in the May election, he was a communications director at the BC LNG Alliance.
Mr. Johal said he was surprised at Ms. Clark's decision to leave.
He also said he did not think his relative lack of elected political experience would be a liability in what is expected to be a crowded race. "When you look at voting here and internationally, people want something new," he said.
"People don't want professional politicians. I am proud to be an outsider. I bring a different experience."
After six years as premier and saying she would serve in opposition, Ms. Clark told her caucus Friday that she would quit as party leader on Aug.4. She also will quit her Kelowna-area seat. In announcing her decision to the media in a statement, Ms. Clark gave no specific reason for leaving now. She is expected to hold a news conference early next week.
Liberal caucus members praised Ms. Clark on Friday, but the party will now face the necessity of picking a new leader to face the BC NDP government. Caucus prospects were avoiding discussion about leadership runs in the hours after Ms. Clark's announcement.
The BC Liberal party executive plans to meet within 28 days to come up with details on the leadership race. After Gordon Campbell announced his exit in 2010, it took about four months for the leadership convention that saw Ms. Clark become leader. The BC legislature is expected to resume sitting in September.