He spent time putting together a campaign team after Andrew Wilkinson stepped down as B.C. Liberal leader, but Kamloops-South Thompson MLA Todd Stone won’t be running to lead the party.
Stone announced on his Facebook page Jan. 14 that while he’s “energized” about carrying on as an MLA, he won’t continue with what has been the only visible leadership campaign for the party. His three daughters “don’t know a time when their dad wasn’t in public office,” and it’s time to be more available to them, he said.
With an early organizing effort underway to measure support, Stone issued an open letter to the party after the October snap election, where he set out priorities for recovering from what he called “the worst election result in three decades.” The letter called for a a more diverse slate of candidates to appeal to urban areas and younger voters where the party lost ground.
“Following the resignation of our former leader, I have been carefully considering whether this was the right time for me to once again put my name forward for the leadership of the B.C. Liberal Party,” Stone said. “I focused on building out a core team and engaged with hundreds of British Columbians. A talented, growing campaign team, a strong fundraising group, and supporters in every corner of the province were at the ready to formally launch a campaign.”
Stone first ran for the leadership in 2017 after former premier Christy Clark lost by a slim margin and the NDP formed a minority government with B.C. Green support. Other candidates were veteran Abbotsford West MLA Mike de Jong, Vancouver-Langara MLA Michael Lee and former Surrey mayor and MP Dianne Watts, who finished a close second to Wilkinson.
Stone is the jobs and economic recovery critic for the B.C. Liberals, who are expected to return to the B.C. legislature in March with interim leader Shirley Bond in charge.