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B.C. Liberals saddle up for urban comeback with Kevin Falcon

Opposition critics reassigned for NDP throne speech Tuesday
Former B.C. premier Christy Clark and Cariboo North MLA Coralee Oakes at the Quesnel Rodeo, July 2016. After an era of urban leaders Clark and Gordon Campbell appealing to the heartlands, the B.C. Liberal Party is working to restore urban support lost to the NDP. (B.C. government photo)

B.C. Liberal leader Kevin Falcon started quickly after easily winning a party leadership vote on the weekend, unveiling a new critic lineup as the B.C. NDP begins the spring legislative session with a throne speech on Tuesday.

Officially, Prince-George-Valemount MLA Shirley Bond remains the opposition leader until Falcon gets a seat in the legislature, and she went over the list with the new leader before releasing it Feb. 7. Former leader Andrew Wilkinson has indicated he will resign his Vancouver-Quilchena seat, historically one of the party’s strongest support areas. But the party lost other strongholds in the Lower Mainland, Fraser Valley and Okanagan with Wilkinson leading, and it now looks to Falcon to rebuild particularly urban support. Timing of a by-election is up to Premier John Horgan.

Falcon has worked for property development company Anthem Capital Corp. since leaving politics in 2013, where he served as finance minister with former premier Christy Clark, and transportation minister under Campbell.

Cariboo North MLA Coralee Oakes was elected caucus chair Monday by a B.C. Liberal opposition sharply reduced in size in the October 2020 snap election. Kamloops-South Thompson MLA Todd Stone continues as jobs critic and takes over as opposition house leader. Kamloops-North Thompson MLA Peter Milobar was named finance critic, as the NDP government prepares its new budget for release Feb. 22.

Skeena MLA Ellis Ross, who finished a strong second in the party leadership contest, is opposition critic for energy and liquefied natural gas. Fraser-Nicola MLA Jackie Tegart is the party’s nominee for assistant deputy speaker, meaning that like Kelowna-Lake Country MLA Norm Letnick, she will not have a critic role.

Penticton MLA Dan Ashton is the municipal affairs critic, Abbotsford South MLA Bruce Banman takes citizens’ services, and Cariboo Chilcotin MLA Lorne Doerkson is critic for rural development.

Nechako Lakes MLA John Rustad continues as forests and lands critic, Delta South MLA Ian Paton remains agriculture critic and Kootenay East MLA Tom Shypitka is mines and low carbon innovation critic.

A full list of B.C. Liberal critic appointments is here.

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