“(Saturday) night’s landslide victory was the beginning of building our support and building momentum. We’re going to continue to do that in every part of the province by the time the next election (in 2024) rolls around.” —Kevin Falcon

Article content

Kevin Falcon has earned the right to spar with the New Democrats in the legislature following his decisive election win Saturday but the BC Liberal leader must also live up to his promises of rebranding and diversifying the party.

advertisement 2

Article content

After capturing 59 per cent of the vote in Vancouver-Quilchena, a traditional BC Liberal stronghold and one of the wealthiest ridings in the province, Falcon celebrated Sunday by doing crossword puzzles with his daughters, Josephine and Rose, and helping his wife, Jessica, with some yard work.

“I’m feeling great,” Falcon told Postmedia News. “(Saturday) night’s landslide victory was the beginning of building our support and building momentum. We’re going to continue to do that in every part of the province by the time the next election (in 2024) rolls around.”

On the heels of a campaign where the NDP reminded the public of the social spending cuts while Falcon held cabinet roles in the Campbell and Clark governments, the leader of the official Opposition said his first priorities are to “continue rebuilding and re-energizing the party ” and finding a candidate to replace outgoing Liberal MLA Stephanie Cadieux in South Surrey.

advertisement 3

Article content

Cadieux, who held the seat for 13 years, resigned on Friday to take a post as Canada’s first chief accessibility officer. The government must set a date for the election within six months.

Falcon, 59, said it’s crucial that the BC Liberals attract diverse candidates so the party reflects the province’s diversity.

“We’re not going to do it with quotas like the NDP because, frankly, I think that hurts some of the very folks that you’re trying to attract,” Falcon said. “I want to make sure we go out and find outstanding candidates who happen to be diverse, ethnically, culturally, sexually.”

BC Liberal leader Kevin Falcon celebrates after winning a byelection for a seat in the legislature in the riding of Vancouver-Quilchena, in Vancouver, on Saturday, April 30, 2022.
BC Liberal leader Kevin Falcon celebrates after winning a byelection for a seat in the legislature in the riding of Vancouver-Quilchena, in Vancouver, on Saturday, April 30, 2022. Photo by DARRYL DYCK /THE CANADIAN PRESS

The New Democrats have a gender-balanced cabinet largely owing to party rules that state when a white male does not run again, the next candidate must be a woman or someone from an equity-seeking group.

advertisement 4

Article content

The race for Surrey South is likely to be a close one. The BC Liberals won the riding in 2020 with 47 per cent of the vote with the NDP close on their heels with 43 per cent. The Greens captured almost 10 per cent of the vote.

The BC Conservatives’ gains in Vancouver-Quilchena — where their candidate Dallas Brodie won six per cent of the vote — raise the real prospect that the Conservatives, should they run a candidate in Surrey South, could chip away at the BC Liberals support.

This is the first time the BC Conservatives have run a candidate in the Vancouver-Quilchena riding, which was created in 1991.

“Of course I always worry about vote splitting,” said Falcon. “It doesn’t make a lot of sense but you know frankly the BC Conservatives, the only thing they have going for them is their name and they’re not connected to the federal Conservative party.”

advertisement 5

Article content

Kevin Falcon, with his daughters Rose, 9, (left) and Josephine, 12, were out door-knocking in Vancouver on Saturday, April 30, 2022.
Kevin Falcon, with his daughters Rose, 9, (left) and Josephine, 12, were out door-knocking in Vancouver on Saturday, April 30, 2022. Photo by Jason Payne /PNG

Falcon is forging ahead with his promise to rebrand the party to remove any perception of ties to the federal Liberals. Former BC Liberal MLA Bill Bennett is heading the party’s committee on the name change, Falcon said, which will have to address thorny issues such as ensuring future candidates don’t run under the BC Liberals to cause more confusion.

“If we can find an appropriate alternative name that gets across what we really are, which is a big tent party, that welcomes all of those that believe a private sector-driven economy is the best way to move our province forward,” he said . “And regardless of, you know, what God they may pray to or who they decide to love, I just think it’s important that they feel welcome in this big tent.”

advertisement 6

Article content

Professor Stewart Perst, a Simon Fraser University political scientist, said the BC Liberals have to ensure the name change allows the party to attract new voters while not alienating their existing base.

An unsuccessful rebranding, Perst said, could risk pushing centrist voters to the NDP and sending more populist, right-of-centre voters to the BC Conservatives.

“The Liberals really do have to thread a needle there,” Perst said. “How do you try to keep as much right-of-centre camp together while still making a play for those centrist voters? So any rebranding is going to have to try to accomplish both things at the same time.”

Elections BC will confirm the results with a final vote on May 4 followed by a certification process that typically takes 10 days. That means Falcon will have a few weeks during the spring session to debate Premier John Horgan and his cabinet during question period and budget estimates.

advertisement 7

Article content

In opposition, Falcon said he’ll hammer the NDP on affordability, citing government “mismanagement” as the cause of rising rents, house prices, gas prices and groceries.

“Everything has become more expensive under this NDP government,” he said.

Asked about how the BC Liberals will rebound after losing 13 seats in the October 2020 election, resulting in its lowest seat count in three decades, Falcon said the opposition parties won’t be hampered by the NDP’s snap election call during a pandemic.

“The NDP broke the law we put in place for fixed election dates, so that they could call it to their advantage in the middle of a crisis, being the COVID pandemic,” Falcon said. “And that was an extraordinarily unusual set of events that gave them, yes, a majority but at a time when the public is very unlikely to vote for a change in the middle of a pandemic. They will not have that benefit next time around.”

Falcon spent 12 years in the Liberal government which included cabinet posts under the governments of Gordon Campbell and Christy Clark. He left politics in 2012 to work in the private sector, most recently at Vancouver-based real estate development and private equity firm.

[email protected]

advertisement 1

Comments

Postmedia is committed to maintaining a lively but civil forum for discussion and encourage all readers to share their views on our articles. Comments may take up to an hour for moderation before appearing on the site. We ask you to keep your comments relevant and respectful. We have enabled email notifications—you will now receive an email if you receive a reply to your comment, there is an update to a comment thread you follow or if a user follows comments. Visit our Community Guidelines for more information and details on how to adjust your e-mail settings.


Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published.