BC Liberal Party leadership candidate Kevin Falcon made a stop in Invermere as part of his tour of British Columbia leading into the leadership vote that will take place on February 26.
“I want to touch base with British Columbians to try and build support for the leadership race. I have seen a lot of enthusiasm and excitement across the province which is great for our party,” Falcon said.
He explained that he wants to represent a new form of leadership that will connect with as many people in the province as possible.
“I view the leadership race as a great opportunity for our party,” he said.
Falcon spoke highly of the other candidates saying that it had been a great race so far and praising them for the way they have conducted themselves in the campaign.
He laid out his vision for B.C.’s forestry industry today, highlighting strategies to increase utilization of B.C. trees, plant more trees, encourage wood in non-residential buildings, and expand our place in Asian markets.
He stressed that forestry, mining and other natural resources are in demand in Asia and the chance is there to secure the economy for both this generation and the next one.
In the fall of 2010, B.C. shipped more wood to Asia than to the United States. Falcon said this diversification of markets is key to the industry’s future.
His plan will also encourage investment in growing trees. “I am committed to working to reduce B.C.’s carbon footprint, but not through continual increases of our carbon tax, which I have committed to freeze at the end of its scheduled increases,” said Falcon earlier in the week in Cranbrook. “I see B.C.’s forests as an important carbon sink, where we can invest in advanced silviculture, ensuring that our future industry has trees to harvest, while cleaning the air today. It’s a win-win.”
He also spoke of the importance in creating jobs in areas with smaller populations. Falcon said that both the federal and provincial governments have to be prepared to make tough decisions which will help create sustainable jobs in rural areas.
During a question time with the local media he also acknowledged the disconnect that some people in rural areas have been feeling towards politics and politicians from the Lower Mainland.
“It is true. Six years as the minister of transportation gave me the opportunity to visit every part of the province and I worked with MLAs like Bill Bennett to fix problems in a lot of communities. But you cannot be unaware of the feeling that there is a disconnect. I do think that the style in how we govern and interconnect with the population really has to change.”
Falcon said he felt the style of leadership has to change and referred to talking to residents at local coffee shops while he travels as a great way to hear what people are concerned about.
He also said that one of the main differences between the Liberals and NDP can be seen in the way they are handling the leadership races.
“Look at the difference of approaches in the prospecttive leadership races. Ours is wide open with a long period that members can join. What does the NDP do? They call their leadership race in December right before Christmas. They have a cutoff that has already happened and effectively they are saying, we don’t want anyone new coming into our party. We don’t want new ideas and energy to revitalize our base.”
As for the announcement by another potential leader for the Liberals Christy Clark who said recently that she might call a snap election if she wins, Falcon made it clear he was opposed to this idea.
“I have said it before and I will say it again. I cannot believe that a candidate who is running to be leader of the party, without ever speaking to any of the 46 elected caucus members, would consider calling an election in the next couple of months. I think it is incredibly irresponsible to have that kind of discussion,” he said.
He went on to explain that he is focused on the members of the party and would not even think about talking about an election at the present time.
While in a meeting with the public the Liberal MLA also received letters from local residents about different parts of the health care system.
Kim Harris talked about the need for a facility that deals specifically with brain injuries to help patients in the province rather than having to go to Alberta for treatment. Windermere resident Crisdon Chaisson who is fighting a rare form of cancer and preparing for treatment at the Mayo clinic in Arizona spent approximately an hour talking to Falcon about the the issues around her case.
Falcon also spoke of the importance of the upcoming vote as a chance for people to vote directly for the next premier of the province. He described it as a chance for the people in the province to do something that most people will never get the chance to do.
The BC Liberal Party leadership vote will take place on February 26, 2011. Any member of the BC Liberal Party in good standing on Feb. 4, 2011 is eligible to vote. Individuals wanting to learn more about Kevin Falcon or join the BC Liberal Party can visit www.kevinfalcon.com.