Former B.C. finance minister Kevin Falcon is set to make his bid for the B.C. Liberal leadership official Monday evening, with a Facebook live event that has been previewed on social media for the past week.
A teaser campaign on Twitter started with “Ready?” then “Set…” then “Let’s Go,” a video featuring an invitation from former Surrey mayor and MP Dianne Watts to join the virtual event at 7 p.m. May 17. Watts was narrowly defeated by Vancouver-Quilchena MLA Andrew Wilkinson for the leadership that followed the Clark’s defeat and resignation when the B.C. Greens supported John Horgan’s minority NDP government in 2017.
Vancouver-Langara MLA Michael Lee, another contestant in the 2017 leadership, announced his intentions Monday with a “ready to run” jogging video on Twitter.
Ready to run. pic.twitter.com/jKHeyH2gqr— Michael Lee (@MichaelLeeBC) May 17, 2021
Falcon is the third declared candidate, and Lee the fourth, along with Skeena MLA Ellis Ross and Vancouver business consultant and long-time party member Gavin Dew, with a party vote set to take place in February 2022. A long-time resident and MLA for Surrey, Falcon seeks to lead a party that lost seats in the Fraser Valley in the snap election in October 2020.
NDP members immediately gave Falcon the front-runner treatment. “Yesterday’s leader, yesterday’s party. Even yesterday’s branding!” Jobs Minister Ravi Kahlon tweeted in response to the Falcon promotions.
Falcon placed second to Christy Clark in the 2011 leadership contest to succeed Gordon Campbell. He went on to serve as finance minister and deputy premier during the wind-up of the harmonized sales tax before leaving politics in advance of the scheduled 2013 election. That election saw Clark form a fourth straight majority B.C. Liberal government, in what was seen as an upset over then-NDP leader Adrian Dix.
The defeat of the HST in a province-wide referendum forced the B.C. Liberal government to revert to the seven per cent provincial sales tax and repay a $1.6 billion transition fund that the federal government provided as an incentive to join the harmonized tax program.
The province booked the repayment as a cost for the 2011-12 fiscal year, pushing the provincial operating deficit up to about $3 billion for that year. The deficit was eliminated before the 2013 election, after the 2009-10 banking crisis and recession.
Falcon was first elected MLA for Surrey-Cloverdale in the B.C. Liberal sweep of 2001. His first cabinet post was minister of state for deregulation, and he served as minister of health and transportation before moving to finance in March 2011.