Langley East MLA Rich Coleman served as interim B.C. Liberal leader after Christy Clark resigned. He has endorsed Abbotsford West MLA Mike de Jong (left) to be the next party leader. (Hansard TV)

B.C. Liberal hopefuls begin final leadership push

Five MLAs, one outsider pitch policies to party members

B.C. Liberal Party membership has doubled to 60,000 since it began its leadership contest to replace former premier Christy Clark, and candidates are down to the final days of seeking support before the new leader is revealed Feb. 3.

The candidates have one more head-to-head debate Jan. 23 to argue their policy positions before members choose vote by online ballots to pick a leader. That leader will have little time to prepare a response to the NDP minority government of John Horgan’s throne speech Feb. 13 and the NDP’s first budget on Feb. 20.

Six candidates are staying to the end, hoping that second- and third-choice votes on ranked member ballots will give them the leadership. Their campaigns have produced some new strategies to bring the long-governing coalition of federal Liberals and Conservatives back into office in B.C.

Mike de Jong has been an Abbotsford-area MLA since replacing Social Credit leader Grace McCarthy in a 1994 by-election. He served in most major cabinet roles, including five years as finance minister before the B.C. Liberal government’s defeat last year.

De Jong’s policy suggestions include expanding Mandarin language education in B.C. schools, moving the B.C. forest ministry headquarters from Victoria to Prince George, and offering parents full-day Kindergarten for four-year-olds.

Michael Lee is a rookie MLA elected to represent Vancouver-Langara in 2017, and a former membership director for the B.C. Liberal Party. His policy book includes a pledge to make B.C. “gasoline free” by 2050, increase electric car incentives and promote car sharing. He wants to increase funding for school and community libraries and also increase independent and home-schooling options for parents.

Todd Stone is the second-term MLA for Kamloops-South Thompson and former transportation minister. He has proposed dedicating B.C. tax revenues from the sale of legalized marijuana to deal with addiction and overdoses of hard drugs. In health care, he proposes to build more government-funded primary care centres in B.C. communities and increase training spaces for nurse practitioners.

Sam Sullivan is a former Vancouver mayor serving his second term as MLA for Vancouver-False Creek. Sullivan has shaken up debates with his suggestion that the B.C. Liberal Party should bring back the Harmonized Sales Tax in a modified form to make it more popular. He is also proposing selling B.C. government liquor stores to their employees, similar to the way B.C. highway maintenance was privatized.

Dianne Watts is the former Surrey mayor who resigned as Conservative MP for Surrey-White Rock to enter the B.C. Liberal leadership contest as the only candidate without a seat in the legislature. Her proposals include reinstating year-round seniors’ discounts on B.C. Ferries, increase funding for community-based social and supportive housing and stop the provincial government from taking a dividend from B.C. Hydro and other Crown corporations.

Andrew Wilkinson is a former party president in his second term as MLA for Vancouver-Quilchena. He has emphasized his opposition to the NDP-B.C. Green effort to convert to a proportional representation voting system, which he says will weaken rural B.C. Wilkinson wants to abolish small business income tax on family businesses, increase mental health and addictions services and keep government stores out of marijuana retail sales.

Just Posted

Parksville council disagrees over parkland, payment

Developer planned to provide 0.5 ha. of land

Rodeo returns to Coombs for fourth year

Events include saddle, bareback riding and barrel racing

Model trains, historical exhibits offered at Parksville museum’s Railway Days

The family-friendly event takes place on Aug. 17 and 18 and is by donation

Coombs, Errington area director won’t run again

Julian Fell endorses Leanne Salter for role

B.C. declares state of emergency as more than 560 wildfires rage

This is only the fourth state of emergency ever issued during a fire season

Updated: ‘Queen of Soul’ Aretha Franklin has died

Publicist Gwendolyn Quinn reports Franklin passed Thursday at 9:50 a.m. at her home in Detroit

Search for mudslide victim becomes recovery mission

Valerie Morris was swept away by a mudslide on Highway 99 near Cache Creek on August 11.

Behind the fire line: B.C. firefighters stalked by cougars

A Keremeos volunteer firefighter talks about what it was like to patrol the Snowy Mountain fire

Woman in custody after topless crane climb near Toronto waterfront

Toronto police have apprehend a woman who climbed crane cab near waterfront

‘Hot and dirty work:’ Commander describes fighting massive Ontario wildfire

Ontario has seen more than 1,000 forest fires so far this year, compared to 561 in all of 2017.

‘Billion-piece jigsaw puzzle:’ Canadians key to 1st complete map of wheat genome

The paper has 202 authors from 73 research agencies in 20 countries.

70 years after Babe Ruth’s death, fans still flock to grave

After Ruth died of throat cancer at age 53, tens of thousands of fans came to pay respects

Airbnb’s federal budget proposal tells Liberals, ‘we want to be regulated’

Submission says ‘we want to be regulated’ and asks the government to avoid forcing existing rules

Greens won’t run candidate in Burnaby South as ‘leader’s courtesy’ to Singh: May

Green Leader Elizabeth May says the decision is an extension of a ‘leader’s courtesy’

Most Read