By Cam Fortems, Kamloops This Week
Kamloops-South Thompson MLA Todd Stone, whose riding includes Chase, is seriously considering a run at the B.C. Liberal leadership, saying he is in touch with party members throughout the province.
And, while he has yet to enter, Stone is reaching out to members, positioning his background as a tech entrepreneur — and the youngest who would enter the race — and considering the leadership’s steep financial price.
The B.C. Liberal Party has set a $600,000 cap for spending, a level Stone said serious contenders will reach. Those contenders must also contribute to party coffers beyond that sum, making the real fundraising need about $750,000.
“The components for any leadership campaign are message, membership and money,” he said.
“If you don’t have all three in plenty, you won’t be successful.”
Any successful leader will need to draw support from each of B.C.’s 87 ridings due to the weighting of the vote.
Following the 2013 election, Stone, then a rookie MLA, became transportation minister as soon as he took office. He is now reaching out to members across British Columbia.
“Where did we go wrong the last year or two years and what do we need to do to restore the trust of British Columbians?”
Stone said he expects leadership candidates to include former cabinet ministers Andrew Wilkinson and Mike Bernier, rookie MLA Michael Lee and, potentially, former Surrey mayor and current federal Conservative MP Dianne Watts and former B.C. finance minister Mike de Jong.
Another Interior MLA, George Abbott, ran unsuccessfully against Christy Clark in 2010.
Stone said he doesn’t believe odds are tilted to a Metro Vancouver candidate, noting the success of Premier John Horgan.
“The premier of B.C. today is from Vancouver Island and he won the majority of seats in the Lower Mainland,” Stone said.
“Why? He did a better job of putting a vision in front of the people of the Lower Mainland.”
B.C. Liberal candidates must declare by a December deadline, also the deadline for memberships eligible to vote in the leadership campaign.
Anyone running for the leadership will be required to participate in party debates or forums in Vancouver, Surrey, Prince George, Nanaimo, and the Thompson-Okanagan region and one organized by the B.C. Liberal Indigenous Network.
Deadline for candidates to enter the race is Dec. 29, which is also the deadline for new members to join the party and vote.
Party members will vote online and by phone from Feb. 1 to Feb. 3.
Stone has not set a self-imposed date for a decision.