An editorial by Mel Rothenburger.
IT WASN’T A RESOUNDING victory but the BC Liberals have a new leader. On the weekend, Kevin Falcon won on the fifth ballot.
It was his second run for the job, having come second to Christy Clark in 2011. Falcon is regarded by some as yesterday’s leader, a former cabinet minister who left politics a decade ago for the private sector. And, horrors, he’s a middle-aged white guy.
But his choice has advantages for Kamloops and the Thompson-Nicola. Falcon has been here many times and is very familiar with the area. His ties here go back to when he was a kid spending time at his family’s vacation home on Paul Lake.
As transportation minister, he played an integral role in getting money for a multi-million-dollar extension to the Kamloops Airport runway.
In his bid for the party leadership, he was endorsed by Kamloops-South Thompson MLA Todd Stone, while Kamloops-North Thompson MLA Peter Milobar, as house leader, remained neutral. But he received support from a number of other Interior MLAs as well.
That could prove important in addressing the rural-urban divide. While the Liberals are strong in the Interior, the NDP dominates in the Lower Mainland. As Falcon works at boosting party fortunes at the Coast, he can rely on a friendly reception in the Interior.
Falcon brings another important trait to the fray — he’s approachable. His is a very different personality from Andrew Wilkinson, who came across as a little too reserved.
Kevin Falcon has a way of being candid without being offensive. During an interview for a call-in radio show on CFJC years ago I obviously said something he disagreed with.
“Mel,” he said, “I’m shocked you would say that.”
Falcon’s next challenge will be getting himself a seat in the Legislature. And by the way, he should ditch the idea of changing the party’s name. That would do nothing to improve its fortunes.
Mel Rothenburger is a former mayor of Kamloops and a retired newspaper editor. He is a regular contributor to CFJC Today, publishes the ArmchairMayor.ca opinion website, and is a director on the Thompson-Nicola Regional District board. He can be reached at email@example.com.