VICTORIA — Seven candidates are in the running to become the next leader of British Columbia’s Liberals following Andrew Wilkinson’s resignation shortly after the October 2020 election. Here are brief thumbnail profiles of the candidates:

Gavin Dew:

Dew, 37, is a Vancouver entrepreneur who advocates for corporate social responsibility.

The married father of two launched a non-partisan organization dedicated to engaging and electing a new generation of political leaders.

“We need a leader who can win back the middle ground and restore the promise of B.C. as a great place to live and work for people and families.”

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Kevin Falcon:

Falcon, 59, is a former Liberal cabinet minister who left politics a decade ago to spend more time with his young family and work in the private sector with a Vancouver investment and property development firm.

He has consistently said throughout the leadership race that the Liberals need to reboot, rebuild and possibly rebrand.

“I’m returning to politics because of my daughters. I want them to grow up in a province providing the best opportunities. I want them and all children in B.C., regardless of background, to have those opportunities.”

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Michael Lee:

Lee, 57, a two-term member of the legislature for the Vancouver-Langara constituency, is also taking his second run at the leadership after placing third in 2018.

The Vancouver business lawyer and father of three says he’s a community leader with strong social and business ties.

“My mission is to rebuild the party, but also to restore trust in our politics.”

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Val Litwin:

Litwin, 44, is a former BC Chamber of Commerce CEO who has not held elected office, but says he can drive necessary change.

He says more than 60 per cent of people in B.C. are younger than 40 years old and the Liberals must find better ways to reach young people and families.

“I will lead a B.C. Liberal party that actually shifts the feelings, ideas, perceptions and stories people have about our party. If we don’t change our culture, any rebranding will backfire.”

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Renee Merrifield:

Merrifield, 46, who was elected in the Kelowna-Mission riding in 2020, says she’s had more than 20 years of success as a business and community team builder and will bring younger voters to the party.

Merrifield says she is a mother of five children living in a blended household.

“We need a leader who can engage British Columbians in writing the next chapter in B.C.’s history.”

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Ellis Ross:

Ross, 56, is the member of the legislature for the Skeena riding in northwest B.C.

The former Haisla Nation chief at Kitimat is a supporter of the $40-billion liquefied natural gas export facility in the area, which is still under construction.

“The only missing ingredient in British Columbia is a new style of leadership that can bring British Columbians together to unlock our province’s potential.”

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Stan Sipos:

Sipos, 68, is a Victoria property developer who came to Canada as a refugee after his family fled Yugoslavia when it was under Communist rule.

The member of the Canadian Drag Racing Hall of Fame says anything is possible, even in times of extreme challenges.

“Team work powers missions bigger than anyone of us can dream.”

This report by The Canadian Press was first published Jan. 30, 2022.

The Canadian Press