Thursday, November 25, 2010

BC Liberal leadership race starts to form

As I learned from Warren Kinsella, who he himself learned from the Canadian Press, the BC Liberal leadership race is just starting to begin:
The race to replace B.C. Premier Gordon Campbell heats up significantly Thursday with Education Minister George Abbott officially joining the contest flanked by at least a dozen members of the current Liberal caucus.

Sources close to Health Minister Kevin Falcon and former Liberal cabinet minister Christy Clark say the two political veterans are seriously close to joining Abbott and former Liberal cabinet minister Moira Stilwell…

Sources also said former Liberal cabinet minister Christy Clark, who left politics in 2005 after two terms in the Liberal government, is poised to enter the race, with an announcement expected soon.

Clark is currently working as a CKNW radio hotline host in Vancouver, where many of her daily topics deal with dissecting the mysteries of B.C. politics.
So, there we have it: George Abbott, Kevin Falcon, Moira Stilwell, and Kinsella's favourite, Christy Clark, are your confirmed or nearly-confirmed candidates for the next Premier of British Columbia. Cool. I wonder if this will be all? I hope not.

How do these candidates stack up against one another?

George Abbott, who is the current Minister of Education, is a veteran of the BC Liberal caucus, sitting with Campbell's party since 1996 in the relatively safe riding of Shushwap. He's held various minor ministerial positions, so he's experienced in government. If the CP story is to be believed, he also has a significant amount of backing from the Liberal caucus, always a useful thing.

Kevin Falcon, aside from having a cool name, is the province's Minister of Health. Given the relatively low controversy that Campbell's government has had with health services, he's in one of the safer ministerial roles. Before his role as Health Minister, he was Transportation Minister, so he's fairly experienced, with two big roles under his belt. According to Wikipedia, Falcon is fairly conservative, but its unsourced, so who knows. He represents the riding of Surrey-Cloverdale, winning handily every time.

Moira Stilwell is a a former Minister and neophyte member of the Liberal caucus, only joining the Legislature in 2009, running in Carole Taylor's old seat of Vancouver-Langara. She's held two minor ministerial posts though, but one for less than a month, and the other for about 6 months. Not fantastic experience, but better than nothing. Aside from that, she's a physician and been on the board of directors for several health agencies. Not sure how much support she'll get, seeing as she is a new member and all. I guess we'll see.

Christy Clark, meanwhile, is a former BC Liberal member who was elected in the riding of Port Moody-Westwood, and was apart of the caucus from 1996 to 2005. She was Education Minister and Deputy Premier during her second term in Campbell's government, and generally received wide acclaim for her time in office. She didn't run in 2005, focusing instead on her children. Since then, she's run in municipal politics, and currently hosts a radio show. Not sure of her politics, but if Kinsella likes her, she's probably centrist in most regards. However, she has run for the conservative NPA municipally, so she may tilt to the right as well. She's probably also more popular than the other contenders among the wider population. But given that she's been out of caucus and government for awhile now, her support is probably flaky at best. Things could easily change with momentum, however.

So, there you have it. The field is dominated by what looks like mostly centre-right candidates, though we'll know more about their positions with time. I assume some have to tilt left, and some will go right, and all will distance themselves very far away from the unpopularity that is Gordon Campbell. Clark most likely has an advantage in that regard, being from the party's glory days of 2001-2005, and untainted by the current shenanigans, but I doubt it will be enough. For now, my bet is Falcon.


  1. George Abbott - very likable, good sense of humour who is small "l" Liberal;

    Christy Clark - small "l" Liberal. Vancouver's NPA is actually made up of both federal Liberals and Conservatives so is centrist.

    Falcon is a Conservative;

    Stilwell is just a very long shot.

    Look for a few more candidates (De Jong, Coleman, and perhaps a few more log shots)

    Two odds on favourite - Clark and Abbott who would also attract broader public support.

    Front runner: Christy Clark if/when she enters.

  2. Hey, thanks a lot, BJ, that helps provide some insight for me. I am just a lowly Ontarian, after all.

    I've heard De Jong's name thrown around a few times, but isn't he something like Campbell's choice?

  3. De Jong is a bit of a lightweight and I don't know whether he's going for it or not. Campbell hasn't chosen anyone but Falcon would seem to be from his "mold", so to speak.

    BTW, another big rumour today, aside from Christy Clark, is that another major outside contender will announce soon. No idea who that would be. Carole Taylor?

    In another 1 - 2 weeks we'll see how this unfolds.

    On the other side of the ledger, the NDP is seriously imploding. Looks like a bunch of NDP MLAs might even bail within the month.