West Vancouver-Sea to Sky MLA Joan McIntyre is throwing her weight behind a local boy in the race for Liberal leader.
McIntyre announced Monday that she's supporting Kevin Falcon, a West Vancouver native and former health and transportation minister, in the race for the leadership of the B.C. Liberal Party.
Speaking to Pique on Monday, McIntyre said she's worked closely with Falcon for the past five years on areas such as the Sea to Sky Highway upgrade and arranging new services in Lions Gate Hospital on the North Shore.
"I've had a great opportunity to see him in action," she said. "I have all sorts of respect for the job he did opening up the province. He was travelling around the province doing projects like the Kicking Horse Canyon Bridge, the work up at the Prince Rupert Port, I think he has an excellent track record in his years there."
MLAs George Abbott, Moira Stilwell and Mike DeJong have also announced their candidacies for the B.C. Liberal leadership. Former MLA and CKNW radio host Christy Clark was expected to announce her candidacy Wednesday morning.
The B.C. Liberal Party leadership vote will take place on Feb. 26, 2011.
McIntyre said it was a difficult decision to endorse Falcon but she did it for various reasons. For one, she wanted to jump in early and have an influence on some of his policy as the campaign unfolds. She also said that Falcon has an "avid interest" in the Sea to Sky corridor.
"He's an avid mountain biker," she said. "He's been on the North Shore, up Squamish way. I think he really understands and gets some of those land use issues and some of the conflicts.
"I'm sort of looking for generational change. I certainly respect all the senior members of our caucus and cabinet. This is our first leadership race in 17 years, coming up to 18 years, so I'm really looking at my stage of life, not to put too fine a point on it, looking for generational change."
Falcon was apparently instrumental in obtaining infrastructure grants for communities in the corridor. In July 2008 the province announced that the Village of Pemberton and the Squamish-Lillooet Regional District would get $101,611 in funding under the LocalMotion program to go towards a two-kilometre commuter trail between Mount Currie and Pemberton, as well as a pedestrian bridge over Pemberton Creek.
In March 2009 Pemberton got a $40,000 LocalMotion grant for the One Mile Lake Accessible Trail Improvements project, money that was announced just prior to the April 2009 provincial election that returned the Liberals to power.
Falcon said through an e-mailed response that he's "really pleased" to have McIntyre on the team.
"Joan was one of the first people I talked to when I was looking at the whole issue of running," he said. "I had to talk to my family, but I also wanted to hear from my colleagues and she certainly encouraged me to jump in with both feet. We've had really valuable discussions about children and families, which is Joan's passion, and I'm going to be looking to her to help make sure that I'm always putting families first."
Falcon has a personal connection to Whistler through his brother Larry, who was a campaigner against the Harmonized Sales Tax.
On the other side of the legislature, New Democratic Party leader Carole James announced her resignation Monday after party infighting became public with 13 dissident MLAs demanding a leadership convention to replace her.