Falcon, Abbott pick up key support

Shuswap MLA George Abbott celebrates with leadership rival Moira Stilwell

VICTORIA – The race to replace Premier Gordon Campbell entered the home stretch Wednesday, as long-shot candidate Moira Stilwell withdrew and endorsed George Abbott for the B.C. Liberal leadership.

At the same time, rival candidate Kevin Falcon picked up two previously uncommitted cabinet ministers, Science and Universities Minister Ida Chong and Education Minister Margaret MacDiarmid.

Falcon and Abbott have attracted the support of most of the current B.C. Liberal MLAs between them. Stilwell is the 19th MLA to endorse Abbott, and Chong and MacDiarmid bring Falcon’s caucus support to 18 MLAs.

Chong said she waited until after the failed effort to recall her as MLA for Oak Bay-Gordon Head before making her decision.

Falcon “is the candidate best able to continue to build on the strong coalition we have across British Columbia, and that’s really important for 2013,” Chong said, referring to the scheduled date of the next B.C. election.

MacDiarmid, a family doctor before being entering politics in 2009, said she was impressed with Falcon’s decision as health minister to introduce patient-focused funding for hospitals.

Stilwell, another doctor recruited by Campbell to run for a seat in Vancouver, said she knew when she entered the leadership race that she didn’t have the profile to win. She is supporting Abbott because she believes he can reform the health care system, but “most importantly” because he has a collaborative leadership style the B.C. Liberal Party needs.

“I believe that [Abbott] has the best chance of holding the party united and defeating the NDP in 2013,” Stilwell said.

The B.C. Liberal Party has set Feb. 26 as the date of a province-wide vote of members. The leadership candidates signed up about 50,000 new members between them, bringing the membership to nearly 90,000, party officials say.

The vote will be conducted by phone and computer link, with each of the 85 constituencies having the same influence on the result regardless of the number of voting members.

Falcon, Abbott, Abbotsford West MLA Mike de Jong, former deputy premier Christy Clark, and former Parksville mayor Ed Mayne remain in the contest.

Just Posted

Slocan Valley to be ‘lit up’ with high-speed internet in 12 months

125 kilometres of fibre-optic cable to be laid from Nakusp to Playmore Junction

Vigil re-affirms belief in peace, acceptance in wake of New Zealand massacre

Nearly 100 show up for solemn event at Mir Centre for Peace

Police bust drug operation in Castlegar

Man charged, will go to court in August

Zoning mix-up nixes Shoreacres property sale

Man says the RDCK’s listings online don’t match his property’s official zoning

Castlegar coach receives Basketball BC honour

Cheryl Closkey recognized for 50 years of volunteering

Sparks fly as SUV speeds down wrong side of Highway 1 trying to flee RCMP

Captured on video, the vehicle headed westbound against oncoming traffic before crashing

Calgary captain has 3 points as Flames torch Canucks 3-1

Giordano leads way as Alberta side cracks 100-point plateau

1,300 cruise ship passengers rescued by helicopter amid storm off Norway’s coast

Rescue teams with helicopters and boats were sent to evacuate the cruise ship under extremely difficult circumstances

B.C. university to offer first graduate program on mindfulness in Canada

University of the Fraser Valley says the mostly-online program focuses on self-care and well being

Province announces $18.6 million for B.C. Search and Rescue

The funding, spread over three years, to pay for operations, equipment, and training

Late-season wave of the flu makes its round in B.C.

BC Centre for Disease Control reported 50 per cent jump in flu cases in first weeks of March

Tofino’s housing crisis causing some to seek shelter at the local hospital

Tofino’s housing crisis is pushing the town’s ‘hidden homeless’ population into the forefront.

Sentencing judge in Broncos crash calls for carnage on highways to end

Judge Inez Cardinal sentenced Jaskirat Singh Sidhu to eight years

2 fires in Victoria caused by cigarettes prompts warning from deputy fire chief

Two separate fires caused by cigarette butts were avoidable

Most Read