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Todd Stone officially enters the BC Liberal leadership race

Last Updated Oct 10, 2017 at 3:52 pm PDT

Todd Stone announces he's entering the race for the BC Liberal leadership on Oct. 10, 2017 (Lasia Kretzel, NEWS 1130 Photo)

SURREY (NEWS 1130) –¬†Another Liberal MLA has entered the party’s leadership race.

BC’s technology sector, families and creating liveable urban and rural communities are all top priorities for Todd Stone as the Kamloops-South Thompson enters the race to replace Christy Clark as head of the BC Liberal Party.

The former Transportation Minister says he learned the lessons of the Liberal’s defeat in the last provincial election and believes he’s the fresh new face needed for a new generation for the party.

“A new generation that works with both our minds and our hearts to help our families and communities prosper. A new generation that listens and acts,” Stone said at his announcement Tuesday in Surrey’s Holland Park.

Stone, 45, says he plans to focus on families, opening up the party both in diversity and accountability, and building the “economy of tomorrow” – meaning a heavy focus on the tech sector, the green economy, and the film industry.

Stone was joined by his campaign co-chairs, former Liberal cabinet minister Peter Fassbender and Prime Minister Justin Trudeau’s former BC adviser Brittney Kerr. Former health minister Terry Lake was also at Stone’s side to throw his support behind a man he believes can manage the province’s opioid crisis.

“Todd and I lost a close friend, just recently, to an overdose. It’s personal. It affects families all across British Columbia,” Lake said. “I know that he understands that and that he’s committed to continuing the fight against the opioid epidemic.”

He isn’t waiting to campaign, with stops planned for later today in Victoria and Kamloops where he will likely tout his plans to create both an urban livable cities plan and a rural economic development plan, which include engaging local governments and citizens.

“We need to stop telling local communities and regions what is best for them and we need to start engaging with them to improve the places where we live and work and play,” Stone said, briefly touching on his wish to create affordable housing.

The BC Liberals suffered heavy losses in urban areas during May’s election.

As a former tech company CEO, Stone stressed his desire to boost BC’s technology sector, including the green sector and film industry, with money for technical training and capital ventures, despite the province’s testy relationship with some new companies such as ride hailing Uber.

“Pulling together a group of highly qualified tech folks to talk about those disrupted technologies and what we need to be doing in British Columbia to prepare, not just from a public policy perspective, but to make sure we are best able leverage the opportunities that that technology represents,” he said.

Despite being a candidate who has helped the party for nearly 30 years, Stone said he wants to shed the Liberal’s public perception that the party lacks transparency.

“As a senior member of cabinet in the former government, there is a lot we did that I was very proud of,” Stone said pointing to the party’s balanced budgets, tax policy and the jobs which developed in the private sector while the Liberals were in office. “But when you’re in government, there are always some tough lessons along the way and I think the sign of true leadership is recognizing and learning from those lessons.”

“We’re going to throw the doors and windows wide open to this party,” he said, adding he wants to host regular town hall meetings within communities across the province.

Stone announced earlier that if he were leader of the party, the Liberals would not accept tax dollars to fund partisan political election campaigns.

He is the eighth person to go for the job as party boss, following MLAs Mike de Jong, Andrew Wilkinson, Mike Bernier, Sam Sullivan and Michael Lee; as well as former Surrey mayor Dianne Watts and Northern BC business owner Lucy Sager.

The party will vote for a new leader on Feb. 3.