FORT ST. JOHN, B.C. – Leader of the opposition and BC Liberal party Kevin Falcon wants to say yes— yes to major projects, to economic development, to social policies, and to replacing the Taylor Bridge.

Speaking at the Fort St. John Chamber of Commerce’s first speaker luncheon in two years, Falcon discussed leadership, competence, and promises that northern residents should expect fulfilled should he become premier of BC.

“It’s easy to say no to things,” Falcon said, “When you’re in government and someone’s proposing a big project.”

“You’ve got to have the vision of knowing where you’re trying to go. You’ve got to think about the next generations. That’s what is really important in leadership.”

Northern Issues

Several of the elements for this vision are specific to residents of northeastern B.C. where, Falcon noted, “the majority of wealth is generated” in the province.

One of these is replacing the Taylor Bridge—which, if elected, former minister of transportation Falcon promised would be done quickly and beautifully.

Another is the Site C Dam, one in a long line of major, controversial projects that make good investments in the preparation for province’s future despite ballooning budgets.

A final issue discussed specific to rural and remote regions of the province like the north is political representation and experience of the northern half of the province.

Premiers, historically, do not make many visits to the northern half of the province. Current Premier John Horgan made a singular, quiet visit to Site C this spring.

Falcon promised not to continue this pattern.

“Should I have the honor to become the next premier of the province…I don’t want to be here and have people say ‘great to see you in the north’ as if it’s some kind of rare sighting. I want people to just say ‘good to see you back in the north again so soon.’”

A Wider Focus: Provincial Issues

Falcon also discussed fixing the crumbling healthcare system, and doing so with a focus on increasing training programs for family physicians. He also advocated for increased rehabilitation systems and centres for people who use drugs, and for increased aid for those suffering from mental illness and those without homes.

Though he did not mention the price tags of these initiatives, he described some of the financial benefits of the programs themselves.

“The really great part about that is that, actually, you will harvest significant savings in both the policing side of things and on jailing and incarceration of people that should never be in jail in the first place,” he said.

Falcon also advocated for $10 a day childcare staffed by well-paid workers—another policy that helps adults return to work and, by extension, the economy. Private sector ingenuity, he says, instead of public sector operation, is the key to get the system running.

Local Response

Dan Davies, MLA for Peace River north, said having his party’s leader and the several liberal MLAs, who joined the journey to see the region, was important.

“British Columbia is very unique in all four corners. To get a feel for what the North Peace, what Peace country, offers, that’s really important when we start talking about developing policy on a provincial scale.”

Davies also said that the trip was an opportunity to put a “face” to the rejuvenated party for northern residents.

“It is absolutely important that people see their elected representatives out and about in the province, listening and learning,” he said.

Kevin Falcon has toured northern BC with a collection of other Liberal MLAs, including shadow cabinet ministers, for the last two weeks. They have made stops in Williams Lake, Prince George, and Terrace, as well as more stops in the Peace region including Chetwynd and Dawson Creek.

Grace Giesbrecht

Grace Giesbrecht is a news reporter for EnergeticCity.ca who recently graduated from Trinity Western University with a bachelor of arts in Media + Communications. She was born and raised just outside of Fort St. John. She began reporting for her university’s student newspaper and interned with Ottawa Life Magazine where she developed a passion for asking questions, telling stories, and the written word. In her free time, you can find her drinking coffee, snowboarding, or reading novels.