Kevin Falcon officially joins the BC Liberal leadership race

Kevin Falcon

GLOBAL NEWS

It has been B.C. politics’ worst kept secret: Kevin Falcon wants to be the next leader of the BC Liberal Party.

After nearly a decade out of public life, the 58-year-old is officially looking to replace Andrew Wilkinson as the party’s chief.

“I am not going to focus on .. who the frontrunner is, you guys can do that,” Falcon said in an exclusive interview with Global BC ahead of his public announcement Monday evening. “I am going to focus on ideas. I think ideas matter — big ideas matter.”

Falcon was one of the most prominent faces of the Gordon Campbell era, serving as transportation minister and health minister after first being elected in 2001.

After Campbell quit, Falcon was the favourite to replace him, but lost on the final ballot to Christy Clark.

He then served as deputy premier and finance minister in Clark’s cabinet, then left politics in 2012 and returned to the real estate investment industry as executive vice-president for Anthem Capital.

The main inspiration for his return to politics are his two daughters, Josephine, 11, and Rose, 8.

“What has changed are three things: I’m married and I have two daughters. I think that change in perspective changes me when I think about the climate and having a government focused on outcomes. It’s not about how much you spend, it’s about outcomes,” Falcon said.

Former Surrey mayor and Conservative MP Dianne Watts is supporting his bid. She ran for the leadership position in 2018, but lost to Wilkinson.

Falcon joins three others who have declared themselves as candidates for party leader: MLAs Ellis Ross and Michael Lee and businessman Gavin Dew.

BC Liberal health critic Renee Merrifield, former BC Chamber of Commerce CEO Val Litwin and social media commentator Aaron Gunn are still considering a bid.

Wilkinson won the leadership in 2018, but resigned after guiding the party to its worst performance since 1991.

In the 2020 election, the Liberals lost 12 of their 22 seats in Metro Vancouver, including in Richmond, Langley, Surrey and Abbotsford. Overall, they won just 29 seats across the province.

“I have deep roots, and having a leader from Metro Vancouver is going to be crucial this time. And I know the areas. Especially Surrey, which is going to be a battleground,” Falcon said.

The BC NDP has already come out on the attack, claiming Falcon would bring back tax breaks for the richest British Columbians. In a news release, the party also mentioned increased MSP premiums, increased BC Hydro and ICBC rates, and tolls on the Port Mann Bridge.

Falcon was instrumental in getting the Port Mann and the Canada Line/SkyTrain extension built.

He said his campaign will be driven by policies on environmental leadership and affordable daycare.

“Did we do everything right? Of course we did not, no government does. But I think what is important is to have the humility to acknowledge when things don’t go well and do things better,” he said.

“When people are really talking about you a lot, it means they are a little afraid.”

The Liberals are set to elect their next leader on Feb. 5, 2022.