Skip to main content
//empty //empty

Todd Stone walks with his family before announcing he will seek the leadership of the BC Liberals in Surrey, B.C., on Oct. 10, 2017.

Darryl Dyck/The Canadian Press

Former transportation minister Todd Stone says the BC Liberals under Christy Clark were too focused on politics and not enough on listening to communities, and he maintains that as someone who has sat in cabinet and learned from those mistakes, he is best qualified to lead the party in a new direction.

"While we were seen as strong fiscal managers, we lost sight of why a strong economy is so important, why all families, all communities, needed to see the benefits of that strong economy," Mr. Stone told a news conference on Tuesday in a Surrey park.

Mr. Stone also conceded that the party could have done better working with communities to find consensus on transportation planning. "There was too much tension, too much political calculation," he said.

Story continues below advertisement

Barring a surprise, the Kamloops-South Thompson MLA is expected to be the last high-profile candidate to enter the race, which will end in February with Liberals choosing a successor to Ms. Clark.

Like other former cabinet insiders now seeking the leadership, Mr. Stone struck a contrite tone, saying he was proud of the Liberal economic record, but that the result of this year's election showed many voters felt the Liberals did not speak for them.

Although Surrey has been the political home base for leadership rival Dianne Watts, a former mayor of the booming city, Mr. Stone said he kicked off his leadership bid in the city southeast of Vancouver because it exemplifies the challenges and successes of many B.C. communities.

"I'm not in Surrey for any other reason than to say this is what the future of British Columbia looks like," said the former tech-company CEO, who was scheduled on Tuesday to go on to Victoria and then to Kamloops.

Other candidates in the race as of Tuesday:

Mike Bernier: The former Dawson Creek mayor, first elected in the provincial riding of Peace River South in 2013, was an education minister under Ms. Clark.

In that role, Mr. Bernier faced challenges that included the need to hire more teachers and increase spending after a Supreme Court of Canada ruling that settled a long-running contract dispute.

Story continues below advertisement

Mr. Bernier has said he did his best with education, and lists as a notable accomplishment the addition of protections for sexual orientation and gender identity in anti-bullying rules for B.C. schools.

Michael de Jong: The Abbotsford-West MLA comes into the race with a 23-year record as a member of the legislature that has included cabinet postings under former premier Gordon Campbell and Ms. Clark.

Most recently, Mr. de Jong was finance minister, which means his stamp was on the economic approach that some leadership candidates have repudiated, saying the economy was well managed, but more could have been done to share that prosperity.

Mr. de Jong, who ran against Ms. Clark for the leadership in 2011, has been embracing his long run in politics.

"I will present myself as a loyal member and servant of the party for many years who has been here in good times and bad, and believe I have the right mix of experience, energy, new ideas and a vision that can galvanize the free-enterprise forces in B.C," he said last month.

Michael Lee: The veteran resource-and-technology company lawyer has a long record behind the scenes in B.C. politics, but came into the electoral spotlight this year by winning the seat of Vancouver-Langara.

Story continues below advertisement

The former BC Liberal membership chair says his situation as a relatively new politician is an asset for a party seeking a new start.

"I believe that, I, as a fresh face with a fresh perspective, am best positioned to lead that outreach effort and rebuild trust," he says.

He has promised that as premier he would cut taxes, encourage innovation clusters around colleges and universities and develop regional economic plans. He has said he will eventually release a more detailed economic plan.

Lucy Sager: The Terrace business-development expert announced her entry into the leadership race last month. She has no seat in the legislature, but was a campaign manager for Skeena MLA Ellis Ross. Her website makes the case for "servant leadership" in which "our greatest opportunity to lead is always rooted in the ability to listen."

Sam Sullivan: Vancouver's former mayor, now an MLA in a downtown riding, entered the race with a basketful of ideas and an exit plan ahead of final voting.

Mr. Sullivan told The Globe and Mail he was running to win or to identify a prospective winner he could support.

Story continues below advertisement

Mr. Sullivan's ideas include reviving the controversial harmonized sales tax under a new name, privatizing elements of health care and selling government liquor stores to their employees.

"Each of these positions is probably not recommended individually, but each has a small but ardent constituency. I feel that if I could weave those different constituencies together, it could end up being a winning formula."

Dianne Watts: Surrey's former mayor is selling herself as a qualified outsider ready to bring a fresh perspective to the party she joined only in May.

"I believe that I can bring a much-needed new vision and common-sense approach to the BC Liberal Party," Ms. Watts said at her launch.

Mr. Lee is making a similar fresh-face pitch, but Ms. Watts is also emphasizing her high profile as the popular mayor of Surrey from 2005 to 2014 and a Tory MP since 2015. In announcing her leadership bid, Ms. Watts said she was quitting her federal seat to focus on the race.

So far, Ms. Watts has highlighted a commitment to work with communities that includes ensuring taxes raised from the legalization of marijuana go to municipalities, and ensuring local governments have a say in developing a comprehensive B.C. energy strategy.

Story continues below advertisement

Andrew Wilkinson: The Vancouver-Quilchena MLA has been a Rhodes Scholar, doctor, lawyer, senior civil servant and cabinet minister, with posts that included advanced education and a weeks-long stint as justice minister before the BC Liberals lost power last summer.

Like other leadership candidates, he struck a contrite tone as he entered the race, telling supporters, "It's time we started listening again."

The Australian-born Mr. Wilkinson has cast himself as having a sense of B.C. from having lived across the province. He was raised in Kamloops and worked as a doctor in the northern Interior community of Dease Lake, and has also lived in Lillooet and the Vancouver Island city of Campbell River.

Report an error Editorial code of conduct
Due to technical reasons, we have temporarily removed commenting from our articles. We hope to have this fixed soon. Thank you for your patience. If you are looking to give feedback on our new site, please send it along to feedback@globeandmail.com. If you want to write a letter to the editor, please forward to letters@globeandmail.com.

Welcome to The Globe and Mail’s comment community. This is a space where subscribers can engage with each other and Globe staff. Non-subscribers can read and sort comments but will not be able to engage with them in any way. Click here to subscribe.

If you would like to write a letter to the editor, please forward it to letters@globeandmail.com. Readers can also interact with The Globe on Facebook and Twitter .

Welcome to The Globe and Mail’s comment community. This is a space where subscribers can engage with each other and Globe staff. Non-subscribers can read and sort comments but will not be able to engage with them in any way. Click here to subscribe.

If you would like to write a letter to the editor, please forward it to letters@globeandmail.com. Readers can also interact with The Globe on Facebook and Twitter .

Welcome to The Globe and Mail’s comment community. This is a space where subscribers can engage with each other and Globe staff.

We aim to create a safe and valuable space for discussion and debate. That means:

  • Treat others as you wish to be treated
  • Criticize ideas, not people
  • Stay on topic
  • Avoid the use of toxic and offensive language
  • Flag bad behaviour

Comments that violate our community guidelines will be removed.

Read our community guidelines here

Discussion loading ...

To view this site properly, enable cookies in your browser. Read our privacy policy to learn more.
How to enable cookies