KAMLOOPS — Todd Stone was back at his constituency office on Monday, pondering what could've been.
After bold predictions he would be in a final showdown with Dianne Watts, the eventual runner-up, Stone was eliminated after the third ballot before Andrew Wilkinson was crowned the new Liberal leader on Saturday night.
"I was disappointed that we didn't obviously do better, but we were very close," said Stone about Saturday's defeat. "If I had been in third spot, 120 better than we were and been ahead of Andrew, we would've likely seen a different result."
It may have been a different result had Stone not been the centre of a controvery that saw 1,300 of Stone's memberships rejected over allegations of fake email addresses.
Stone said on Monday the allegations — leaked by former Liberal cabinet minister Bill Bennett who was backing Wilkinson — are unequivocally false.
"We were in a back and forth with the party over the course of a number of days as to what could be done in order to facilitate a process for these people to actually be able to vote," Stone noted. "They paid their money, they have real addresses, real phone numbers. They're people who wanted to join the party, predominantly South Asian who wanted to participate in this process."
Stone says the membership allegations may have played a role in his fourth-place finish, but claims he was thrown under the bus by his fellow Liberals.
"It's unfortunate that there was some in the party who seized on this issue and really took it to a level that was not warranted," he said. "At the end of the day, the party determined there was no action required, other than for these members, these real people, not to be able to vote."
But despite the mudslinging, he says the party needs to wipe the slate clean and come together.
"We all want the same thing and that's a good government in British Columbia that makes balanced decisions," said Stone. "We're the opposition at this moment, so our job is to hold the NDP to account."
Stone says the Interior still has strong representation. A positive outcome of the defeat for Stone is more time with family at home.
"There's two really great things that are going to come out of this for me. One is they're going to get their dad back, and No. 2 I said to my three daughters 'I guess we better get going and start looking around for that puppy."
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