BC Liberal leadership candidate Kevin Falcon has picked up his biggest endorsement so far, with the announcement Wednesday evening that Kamloops-South Thompson MLA Todd Stone is joining his campaign.
“I’m pleased because Todd represents a really important constituency in the party,” Falcon said in an interview.
“He’s a former leadership candidate himself, and someone who has a lot of respect in the party amongst the party membership. And I’m just really honoured he’d step forward and endorse me.”
It’s the Falcon campaign’s fourth MLA endorsement, but arguably its most notable so far.
In Stone, Falcon has picked up one of the party’s most active critics in the legislature, and a leader in caucus. Stone also brings his own volunteer and organizational heft to the Falcon campaign, built from his own previous leadership bid in 2018.
Stone finished fourth in that race, behind Michael Lee (who is running again in the current race), Dianne Watts (who is co-chairing Falcon’s campaign) and Andrew Wilkinson (who resigned earlier this year after the party’s loss last October).
“The more I’ve got to know him, he’s a guy who is a big bold thinker,” said Stone. “I think incremental policies are not going to get the job done. There’s going to be some massive challenges coming out of the pandemic related to economic recovery, and that will require someone who is unafraid to put big bold ideas on the table.”
Stone and Falcon have never served in the legislature together, with Falcon leaving politics as Stone was elected in 2013. But Falcon said he’s “gelled” with Stone since then, especially around their young families.
“We do have that real connection - both of us having young daughters, both of us leaving good private sector careers to want to make a genuine contribution to the province country,” said Falcon. “It’s something I have a lot of admiration for.”
Stone said during his tenure as Minister of Transportation he ended up cutting the ribbon on major projects started by Falcon, including the South Fraser Perimeter Road and Port Mann Bridge. “The guy is a builder, he completely understands the role that transportation infrastructure plays,” said Stone.
Another major factor was Falcon’s experience, including 12 years as an MLA, a variety of cabinet posts and a tenure as deputy premier.
“I want our next leader to be someone tested and experienced and ready to go on Day 1,” said Stone. “He does not need to learn on the job.”
There are currently four declared candidates in the BC Liberal leadership race: Falcon, Lee, Skeena MLA Ellis Ross and Vancouver entrepreneur Gavin Dew.
BC Liberal members vote Feb. 5, 2022.
Rob Shaw has spent more than 13 years covering BC politics, now reporting for CHEK News and writing for The Orca. He is the co-author of the national best-selling book A Matter of Confidence, and a regular guest on CBC Radio.
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