Kamloops-South Thompson Liberal MLA Todd Stone said he went into the Christmas break confident he would enter the BC Liberal Party leadership race.
In prior months, he had began building a campaign team, raising money and refining a message.
However, Stone said he had a “profound moment” with family over the holidays, realizing he had limited time before his daughter’s left the house.
Party leadership would consume a lot of time and he said he may have only four to six years with his daughters and wife under one roof.
“I’ve decided to put the girls first and it feels great,” Stone told KTW, noting he had slept well since making his decision.
Stone announced online last week that he would not be running.
Stone was re-elected for his third term as Kamloops-South Thompson MLA in the fall of 2020, with 51 per cent of the vote.
His BC Liberal Party, meanwhile, lost a significant number of seats to the incumbent BC NDP, which received a majority to govern.
The BC Liberal Party currently has 28 seats in the legislature, compared to the BC NDP’s 57 seats and the BC Green Party’s two seats.
Former party leader Andrew Wilkinson stepped down shortly after the election, with veteran Prince George-Valemount Liberal MLA and former cabinet minister Shirley Bond named interim leader.
Leadership speculation mounted, though a BC Liberal party spokesperson told KTW no date has been set for the race. Stone ran for party leadership in 2018 and lost to Wilkinson, who took over from former leader and premier, Christy Clark. The Liberals were ousted in 2017, after 16 years in power.
Stone said he will continue to do everything he can to help elect a BC Liberal government in the future.
He said the party needs to broadly engage with members and British Columbians about party values and future direction and that the party should ensure “everyone in this province feels welcome in this party.”
In his online announcement, Stone said the party must engage with people for whom the party is no longer relevant. He said the party must inspire young people and women and reflect diversity, including LGBTQ members.
Stone also noted to KTW the rural-urban divide. In the fall election, the BC Liberal Party did not win seats in major urban centres.
“The challenge here is to figure out how to best inspire people across the province, especially at this point in the Lower Mainland, in urban centres, to feel comfortable supporting our party again,” he said. “We have to do that in order to have a chance to earn the trust of enough people to form government again.”
Asked who he thinks will be the next leader of the party, Stone did not answer but said he knows of people considering entering the race.
As for a future run, Stone would not rule it out. Perhaps when his girls head off to college?
“The decision I’m making here is about this leadership race,” Stone said. “What the future holds, in terms of where I may be in four years, let alone eight or 12 years from now, who knows, but I feel really good about this decision and I also know when to make those decisions of the heart, they’re usually made for the right reasons and other opportunities usually manifest and present themselves.”