If the B.C Liberals want a candidate who can follow in the footsteps of the departing Kevin Krueger, that is, if they want someone as fervently loyal to the party, as staunchly convinced the NDP is a political disaster waiting to plunge the province into economic ruin, they need look no further than Todd Stone.
On the eve of Premier Christy Clark’s trip into town to announce good things for RIH, Stone was announcing he wants to succeed Krueger. Aside from keeping the NDP out of office, he cited RIH as a priority.
As MLA, Stone would be, perhaps, more measured than the famously bombastic Krueger, but they share a similar disdain for the left. He is a true Liberal blueblood, a purebred Campbellite, loyal to the party since his high school days more than 20 years ago.
Once a Campbell aide, later a president of the federal Liberal riding association, and campaign manager for Krueger at the age of 28, he was appointed to the TRU board of governors by Campbell after the Liberals turfed the socialist horde at the polls and purged the board of NDP appointees. He’s also been on the ICBC board and several community groups.
When Campbell left office, Stone hopped on the Christy Clark bandwagon, working the phones to help get her elected as leader.
Oh, and he has a painting of Barack Obama – a gift from wife Chantelle – hanging in his living room.
So it was no surprise that 50 or so Liberal supporters, many of them from the business community, showed up at the offices of Stone’s iCompass Technologies on Tuesday for his announcement that he was making his candidacy for the nomination official.
Stone reassured them he’s a free-enterpriser and that an NDP government would be a bad thing for free enterprise. He also acknowledged that the polls show the Liberals are in a deep hole, but he’s optimistic they can dig themselves out.
This isn’t the first time he’s taken a run at public office. Back in 1999, he was briefly a contender for the Liberal nomination that was eventually won by Claude Richmond.
Richmond, who was then manager at the Kamloops Airport, was a late entry. Until then, Gur Singh was seen as the front-runner, having narrowly lost to the NDP’s Cathy McGregor in the previous election.
Stone and Jim Harker (the latter not yet a City councillor) worked for months to sell Liberal memberships building their own support.
Just how many is a bit murky. A Singh campaigner said her guy had a thousand new members. Stone said he had 400, and that there were 1,400 in total among the three.
Anyway, Stone bowed out, citing the need to keep his attention on his business. He was quoted as saying then that his supporters wouldn’t back either Singh or Richmond – “There’s a huge appetite for someone different, someone fresh. Claude doesn’t represent that and Gur doesn’t represent that.”
Those remarks didn’t go down well with some local Liberals, but time heals. Thirteen years later, having just turned 40, Stone is still “someone fresh” as far as public profile is concerned, but he’s no political freshman.
Should he win the nomination – and there’s no reason to think anyone else will even run against him – Liberals are hoping he has a good shot at holding the riding.