BC Liberal Party leadership candidate Kevin Falcon was meeting with party members in Kelowna this week. (Contributed)

BC Liberal Party leadership candidate Kevin Falcon was meeting with party members in Kelowna this week. (Contributed)

BC Liberal leader candidate embraces social issues

Kevin Falcon says economic realities for British Columbians are changing

Stepping out of the B.C. politics limelight has helped Kevin Falcon reassess his policy values and he’s ready to step back into the fray.

“I have a different vision coming back from when I left politics. My wife was just pregnant then with our second child, they are now 11 and eight. My principles have not changed but I would argue my values have,” said Falcon.

Falcon spoke to Black Press at a recent Kelowna campaign stop. He said talking about his passion for issues now like drug addiction, affordable child care and climate change don’t always draw a positive response from party members.

“Some party members look at me a bit quizzical when I focus on these issues…but focusing on these issues is how we broaden our base and get a stronger turnout at the polls,” he said.

“I will always be rock solid on our party’s reputation for fiscal issues and financial management, but we also have to tackle some of these other issues that are of fundamental concern to families out there. “

Falcon challenges how the NDP has handled economic issues, such as providing affordable daycare and issues with old-growth logging, as being heavy-handed and absent of consultation from those most negatively affected.

“We all see how change is coming but you can’t leave those most affected on the outside looking in, as was the case with the NDP’s old-growth forestry policy with little input from the logging industry, or moving to more of a unionized daycare system where smaller private operators, who are currently the backbone of our child care system, face being negatively affected,” he said.

Falcon stepped out of the political arena in 2011 after losing the party leadership race to Christy Clark. He had been an MLA for the Surrey-Cloverdale riding from 2001 to 2013, during that time in former premier Gordon Campbell’s cabinet occupying high profile cabinet portfolios as minister for transportation and health.

After losing the leadership race to Clark, Falcon left politics and joined Vancouver-based Anthem Capital as the firm’s executive vice-president.

While the Liberals have remained entrenched in many Interior ridings — holding all three seats in the Central Okanagan ridings — Falcon says the NDP political beachhead established in the Lower Mainland in the last two provincial elections has left his party sitting in opposition.

The registration cut-off for Liberal Party members to be eligible to vote in the leadership convention is Dec. 17, with the vote set for Feb. 3-5.

The other leadership candidates include local MLA Renee Merrifield, B.C. Chamber of Commerce CEO Val Litwin, Skeena Liberal MLA Ellis Ross, Vancouver-Langara Liberal MLA Michael Lee and businessman Gavin Dew.

READ MORE: Liberal leadership candidate talking party renewal