Analysis: BC Liberal leadership race grows

photo of Todd Stone via
photo of Todd Stone via

Todd Stone announces candidacy

By Jillian McMullen, Staff Writer


Todd Stone, MLA for Kamloops-South Thompson and former minister of transportation, announced October 10 his bid for the BC Liberal leadership. The party began its search for a new leader when Christy Clark resigned in early August after the NDP-Green party coalition toppled her government, which had been in power for 16 years.

In the May election, the Liberals were badly beaten in the area of Metro Vancouver. In a letter posted to his campaign site, Stone said the previous government “failed to listen to the voices of many British Columbians.”

Stone was instrumental in the transit plebiscite of 2015, which was ultimately unsuccessful. He said in a Vancouver Sun report that it had been a “tough lesson,” but one that he is willing to face head on.

Prior to entering politics, Stone was the CEO of a technology company, and one of his campaign promises is to commit to developing the province’s technology sector to help grow BC’s economy. He is also campaigning on improved affordability and increased access to childcare and early childhood education.

The leadership race itself has grown much larger than previous BC Liberal leadership campaigns. In the 2011 race to replace Gordon Campbell, there were only four candidates; the current race’s ballot has grown to eight candidates.

Some faces may be familiar to residents of the Lower Mainland. Former Vancouver mayor Sam Sullivan, as well as former Surrey mayor Dianne Watts, are both vying to a chance to lead the party.

Sullivan was first to announce his candidacy. Currently the MLA for Vancouver-False Creek, Sullivan promises to focus on developing the province’s urban centers in a video posted to his website. This will largely focus on increasing affordable housing and addressing the overdose crisis

According to a report by the Toronto Star, Watts, who is now the current Conservative MP for South Surrey-White Rock, promises to step down from her federal seat to focus on provincial politics, if elected to lead the BC Liberals. In the Toronto Star report, Watts said she was inspired to enter the race in light of the NDP-Green coalition, something she says is “unstable.”

Other candidates include Mike Bernier, former minister of education; Mike de Jong, former minister of finance and former minister of health; Andrew Wilkinson, former minister of advanced education and former minister of technology; Michael Lee, newly-elected MLA of Vancouver-Langara; and Lucy Sager, a businesswoman from Terrace.

To remain in the race, candidates must pay $50,000 to the Liberal Party by December 29, with the party voting between February 1 and February 3 of next year.