Surrey-Cloverdale MLA Kevin Falcon has added two more high-profile endorsements to his campaign for the B.C. Liberal leadership, as Prince George-area cabinet ministers Shirley Bond and Pat Bell pledged their support.
Shuswap MLA George Abbott added his 17th endorsement from sitting MLAs Monday, as West Vancouver-Capilano MLA Ralph Sultan joined his team. Falcon's total stands at 15 current MLAs.
At his announcement in Prince George Monday, Falcon emphasized the significance of Bell, minister of forests, lands and mines, and Bond, minister of transportation.
Falcon said he's grateful for their support, "and the organization they bring to the table, because I can tell you they are highly respected and supported, not just in the north but in virtually every part of rural British Columbia."
Bond noted that while Falcon hails from Metro Vancouver, he has paid attention to rural B.C.
"When Kevin was minister of transportation, he didn't just care about Prince George," Bond said. "He cared about McBride, he cared about Valemount, and I can tell you he's even been to Dunster."
Sultan, an engineer and former bank economist, praised Abbott's small business experience.
"What stands out for me is that George has owned and operated his own business and met payroll," Sultan said.
Former deputy premier Christy Clark hasn't added any caucus support since being endorsed by Burnaby-Lougheed MLA Harry Bloy when she announced her leadership bid. Abbotsford West MLA Mike de Jong and Vancouver-Langara MLA Moira Stilwell have not found any support among fellow MLAs.
MLAs who haven't endorsed anyone are Finance Minister Colin Hansen, Education Minister Margaret MacDiarmid, Agriculture Minister Ben Stewart, Science and Universities Minister Ida Chong, Richmond East MLA Linda Reid, Cariboo-Chilcotin MLA Donna Barnett and North Vancouver-Lonsdale MLA Naomi Yamamoto.
Premier Gordon Campbell and Penticton MLA Bill Barisoff, the speaker of the legislature, are remaining publicly neutral. Attorney General Barry Penner and Social Development Minister Kevin Krueger are also not indicating support because they serve on a party committee dealing with leadership rules.