Katy Merrifield interviews the BC Liberal leadership candidates. Next up, former Finance Minister and Deputy Premier Kevin Falcon.
Successful private-sector career. Loving, beautiful family. At times referred to as “the best Premier we never had” in Vancouver social circles. Why is Kevin Falcon coming back to provincial politics for arguably the toughest and least rewarding gig in BC?
“I thought about my girls and what kind of a role model I wanted to be for them,” says Falcon.
“I want to be someone that stepped forward when there was an opportunity to give back to a party that was very good to me for many, many years. It’s not about the easy decision.”
Falcon’s two daughters, Rose and Josephine, have softened his edges during his near-decade absence in politics.
“My values haven’t changed but my perspective has. Having two lovely daughters who mean everything to me has changed my view on a number of issues, from the environment to the importance of diversity and gender parity in politics.”
For Falcon the fundamentals remain the same. Fiscal responsibility means never forgetting government spending comes directly out of the wallets of individuals and families, and big promises need to come with results, something he feels the NDP lacks.
“They’re not bad people, but I don’t think they have the leadership skills we need in the province right now, especially as we come out of Covid. There’s a huge opportunity for a free enterprise alternative that can inspire confidence, trust and have a demonstrated track record of confidence and capability.”
I would argue Falcon has an impressive record. As Transportation Minister, he delivered the Canada Line, the Evergreen Line, the Port Mann Bridge, the Sea to Sky Highway and the Pitt River Bridge, to name a few. As Finance Minister, he helped get BC back to black before the 2013 election.
But his proudest accomplishment in government is the significant investment he made in Dr. Julio Montaner’s seek and treat strategy for HIV/AIDS where HIV treatment was used as a prevention strategy to curb the growth of the epidemic among marginalized populations.
“It was enormously impactful and beneficial to the point where today AIDS is now treated as a chronic disease.”
Listening to Falcon is a reminder that BC Liberals have a lot to be proud of after their 16 years in government. Were they perfect? Absolutely not. Is significant renewal needed? Yes. However, from massive infrastructure investments to the Olympic games, to leading health care outcomes, to the first jurisdiction in North America to impose a revenue-neutral carbon tax, the BC Liberals accomplished a lot.
On renewal, Falcon takes a hard line.
“We need a root to branch rebuild, including the name. It’s time to get back to being a party of ideas that reflects our diverse communities more effectively. I want this to be the biggest possible tent of people united by ideas from all backgrounds, regardless of federal politics, geography, gender, socioeconomic status or sexual orientation.”
“It’s time to return to a foundation of principles.”
His rallying cry is heard by many top-tier liberal and conservative organizers of all ages, although he is quick to move away from federal political affiliations, noting “the public identifies with ideas, not labels.” But his campaign team, led by co-chairs Dianne Watts and Puneet Sandhar, reflects exactly what he wants to see: youth, enthusiasm, skill, and diversity.
As of Wednesday night, Falcon picked up support from a second 2017 leadership candidate – Todd Stone. In party circles, this is a significant endorsement; Stone has long been viewed as a leader in a new BC Liberal era. He also brings organizational weight and his own loyalists to the team.
Is Falcon unbeatable? Of course not. There are always front-runner risks, and in politics, the higher you fly, the harder you can fall. But with his motive, unique skills, track record, and sharp team, he’s the one to watch.
Katy Merrifield is the Vice-President for BC at Wellington Advocacy, who has served as Communications Director to Premiers of both Alberta and British Columbia, and was the youngest woman to run a winning leadership campaign in BC.
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