What could a leader from the Interior mean for the Interior? No one knows

Two & Out
By James Peters
February 2, 2018 - 1:43pm
Image Credit: CFJC Today

KAMLOOPS — Todd Stone must feel like the prettiest girl in the dance.

That's what it's like when everyone's looking at you, right?

As the BC Liberal leadership wound to a close this week, it was Stone who was in the crosshairs of all his rivals.

Four of his five opponents signed a letter asking the party to look into his disqualified memberships, which they say total to an abnormally-large sum.

There's no way they would have done that if they didn't consider Stone the main threat in the race.

While the former Social Credit Party had plenty of leaders from the Interior, the BC Liberals haven't had a leader from outside Vancouver Island and the Lower Mainland since Duff Pattullo from Prince Rupert in 1928.

No, Christy Clark in West Kelowna doesn't count.

So, if Stone is elected leader tomorrow, we don't really have a recent template to determine whether it really helps to have a party leader or a premier who is from the Interior.

Stone's name has been attached to the triple-delete scandal, the failed Lower Mainland transit referendum and the financial dumpster fire that is ICBC.

He has done his best to dip and dive and slip away from the controversy, but a certain amount of those issues will stick to him.

Certainly Stone as Liberal leader would do little to heal the urban-rural split made evident in last spring's election.

Lower Mainland and Vancouver Island voters are largely concerned with affordability and the coastal environment, and saw the NDP as their chance to turn around worrying trends.

In the North and Interior, we have benefitted from the Lower Mainland affordability exodus, but our priorities are different.

We're more concerned about job security in the changing economy, and access to government-provided services like health care and education.

Stone as leader will be naturally forced to balance all of those priorities, and perhaps that's for the best.

If he is elected, Stone will need a good staff in his local MLA office, because he will be naturally pulled away from his responsibilities as a local representative.

We don't really know if anything will be different for us in the Interior, even as Stone will be pulled toward working for the province as a whole.

Certainly, Todd Stone has been preparing for this moment almost all his life, and no one can accuse him of not having the passion and ambition for the job.

Whether passion and ambition translates into a great leader is yet to be seen.