1. What does it mean to you to be elected as leader of the BC Liberals?
I’m absolutely thrilled that we had such a strong field of candidates running for the BC Liberal Leadership and it is incredibly humbling to receive such a strong mandate, with almost half of all members voting for me on the first ballot and nearly 75 per cent voting for me in their top three choices. I’m inheriting a great team of MLAs from throughout the province who are ready and willing to keep holding John Horgan and the NDP government to account.
2. As somebody who has roots in the party as former Transportation Minister and former Minister of Health-how do you hope to rebrand the party given the performance of the party in the last election was dismal under former leader Andrew Wilkinson?
In Opposition, it’s your job to hold government accountable for their decisions and failures, as well as to put forward a positive vision for the future of the province. The NDP have failed, over the last 5 years, to demonstrate they can get big projects done. Cancelling a ten-lane bridge that had a successful bid $900 million under budget to replace that with a tunnel in ten years offering the same number of lanes makes no sense. Spending $2 billion to replace a four-lane Pattullo Bridge with another four-lane bridge makes no sense. I will stop these bad government decisions and get big projects built once again.
WATCH: KEVIN FALCON's INTERVIEW AS NEW LEADER OF THE BC LIBERALS
3. Which areas of work will you be focusing on?
Throughout my campaign, and since becoming Leader of the BC Liberals, I’ve been out engaging with British Columbians from all across the province and listening to the issues that matter most to them. The NDP has been in power for half a decade now, and the issues I’m hearing from people, in urban and rural communities alike, are problems that have all become worse under the NDP. 2021 was the deadliest year on record for opioid overdoses. It also saw housing prices rise to the highest levels ever, childcare become an even bigger issues for parents, and the overall cost of living skyrocket. British Columbians deserve leadership and action from their elected representatives. The NDP platitudes and broken promises have to come to an end for more people to finally get ahead in this province.
4. How will your leadership be different from those who have been leaders in the past?
I’m coming into this job and joining a great team of MLAs that have performed very well under the Interim Leadership of MLA Shirley Bond for the past 15 months. My leadership style involves ensuring diversity in both our party and in future BC Liberal candidates.
5. When it comes to relationship building how do you hope to do that with the urban youth, multicultural, and multigenerational voter base?
The only way to expand your voter base is by getting out there, meeting people of all ages and all communities, and talking about the issues that matter most to them. In order to do that, you have to listen and be open to new ideas and new perspectives. A significant part of my leadership campaign was engaging with people who weren’t members of the BC Liberals. You must have the type of conversations and forge the connections and relationships that make people want to get involved in politics. You have to not only prove you have the right ideas to get things done, but that you have the capability to get elected and get those things done on their behalf.
6. With the dream of home ownership being chased away further and further from young people what are your plans on affordability?
No matter where you go, housing affordability is one of the top issues throughout the province. The NDP campaigned on making B.C. more affordable back in 2017 and yet they’ve introduced a slew of new taxes and home prices have hit the highest levels ever. It now takes 36 years for the average person to save up for a home in Vancouver. We need a government that is serious about facilitating the creation of housing supply in communities across British Columbia. That means requiring municipalities get projects approved and under construction on a timely basis while creating opportunities for greater density where it makes sense.
7. For those who live in the Lower Mainland and who have absolutely no chance at owning a home, what would you do for renters?
We’re continuing to press John Horgan and the NDP on their broken promise form 2017 to implement a $400 renters' rebate that has been nowhere to be seen for five years now. Government has to do more to facilitate the creation of more housing across the entire spectrum, and that includes purpose-built and affordable rentals.
8.What sort of relationship do you see yourself having with the current BCNDP government?
When I became Leader of the BC Liberals, I was clear that I would be relentless in highlighting the areas where the NDP government needs to do better, but that I would also celebrate the good things they do as well. Politicians who find themselves in Opposition and resort to constant negativity are part of the reason why many people are turned off by politics. For the sake of our democracy, you have to recognize the good things government does, no matter who is in power. I was pleased to welcome the government’s recent announcement it has secured a new location and funding for the Chinese Canadian Museum, and the reason I push the NDP hard on delivering their broken promise of $10 per-day childcare is because I believe that policy is a good idea that will make a real difference. It may be a rarity when the NDP actually gets something done that benefits people, but when it happens you can expect me to recognize it.
9. Premier John Horgan has been consistently rated among the best Premiers in Canada. So what will be your strategy to defeat him in the next Provincial Election and do you feel that the timing is right for you to take on this challenge?
John Horgan has rightfully been recognized for his government’s handling of the COVID-19 pandemic, and while there have certainly been issues with it, including a devastating lack of transparency with the media and the public, I think overall the pandemic response has been good in our province. That’s why British Columbians rank Premier Horgan so highly right now, but as we begin to reach the endemic stage and the serious issues plaguing our province like the affordability crisis and a failing healthcare system become front and centre, people are going to want to see action on those issues, and the NDP’s pre-pandemic track record doesn’t inspire hope for anyone looking for positive change.
10. What is your message to the South Asian community?
I’m looking forward to continuing to engage with the South Asian community throughout my leadership of the BC Liberals and finding ways to continue to foster inclusion and diversity in the membership of this party. The South Asian community has also been an absolute inspiration throughout this pandemic. Whether it was helping keep seniors supported during lockdowns or providing food for those facing tough economic times, the South Asian community stepped up. As a former Surrey MLA, I know just how much the South Asian community and the gurdwaras contribute to our province. That kind of community leadership makes a difference, especially in the tough times that British Columbia has faced in recent years due to the pandemic as well as the flooding just months ago. The South Asian community will see change in our party and our future candidates that reflects the important role the community plays in our province.