The B.C. Liberal Party will select a new leader on Feb. 26, with the winner replacing Gordon Campbell as the next premier of B.C.

As of Feb. 16, three B.C. cabinet ministers and one former minister turned radio show host have entered the race.

The main issues to emerge in the race so far include the coming referendum on the HST and the province's minimum wage.

The party did have a one-member one-vote system for selecting new leaders, but delegates at an Feb. 12  party convention voted on a new counting system that would "ensure each electoral district is counted equally."

B.C. Liberal leadership coverage on CBC

The B.C. Liberal Party will choose a new leader — and the province's new premier — on Saturday. Tune in to CBC Radio One and on television to the CBC News Network or CHEK TV from 6 to 7 p.m. PT for complete coverage of the leadership vote from the convention floor. And join Anu Dawit-Kanna here in a live online discussion from 6 to 7:30 p.m. PT and be a part of the political conversation.

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B.C. Liberal leadership candidate Shuswap MLA George Abbott says he would bring a consensus building style to the premier's office. ((CBC))

George Abbott

MLA for Shuswap

First elected as an MLA in 1996 to represent the riding of Shuswap, Abbott was re-elected in 2001 and again in 2005.

Abbott was appointed minister of education in October 2010 before stepping down to run for the party leadership. Previously he served as minister of aboriginal relations and reconciliation and deputy house leader for the government.

Before his election, Abbott was chair of the Columbia-Shuswap Regional District and taught political science at Okanagan University-College. He also owned the oldest and largest berry farm in the Interior.

His Platform: Abbott is pledging to bring a different style of leadership than the one seen under Campbell, one that features more collaboration and listening.  He says his actions as premier would be based around three core principles:

  • A strong free enterprise economy.
  • A focus on helping families.
  • A recognition of rural B.C. as the "economic engine" of the province. 

As for specific promises, Abbott says he still supports the HST, but will move up the referendum to June 24, 2011, at the very latest. he also promises to put another question on the referendum, asking British Columbians if they would prefer to put a hold on the carbon tax for the next three years.

He would order an independent, third-party review of the B.C. Rail compensation decision that cost taxpayers $6 million.

He also promises to raise the minimum wage.

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B.C. Liberal leadership candidate Christy Clark announced her candidacy in Vancouver Dec. 8.

Christy Clark

Former MLA for Port Moody-Burnaby Mountain

Clark was first elected in the riding of Port Moody-Burnaby Mountain in 1996. She became Minister of Education and deputy premier in 2001 and was appointed MInister of Children and Family Development  in 2004. She did not seek re-election in 2005 to spend more time with her family.

After leaving provincial politics, Clark became a radio talk show host in Vancouver and sought the Non-Partisan Association's nomination for mayor of Vancouver in 2005, which she lost to Sam Sullivan.

Her Platform: Clark says she is building her political platform with what she calls a "family first" agenda. She also says she does not believe the HST will survive the referendum currently scheduled for September 2011 and she is calling instead for a free vote in the legislature to determine the future of the unpopular tax. Clark said she believes the minimum wage should be raised but is calling for increases to be gradually phased in.

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Abbotsford West MLA Mike de Jong was the first candidate to apparently announce his entry into the Liberal leadership race on Facebook.

Mike de Jong

MLA for Abbotsford West

Michael G. de Jong has won five elections in Abbotsford since he was first elected in 1994 to represent what was then called the riding of Matsqui. 

In 2009 he was appointed B.C.'s attorney general. He has also served as solicitor general and minister for public safety, minister of aboriginal relations and reconciliation, minister of labour and citizen services, and minister of forests. He has also been the B.C. Liberals' government house leader since 2005.

Before becoming an MLA, de Jong served two terms as an Abbotsford school trustee and ran his own legal firm. He is also a captain in the Canadian Forces' air force reserve.

His platform: De Jong says he'd cut government spending by reducing the number of cabinet ministers from 24 to less than 20 and have ministers publicly report on their expenses.

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Kevin Falcon says he would focus on the economy as leader of the B.C. Liberals and premier. ((CBC))

Kevin Falcon

MLA for Surrey-Cloverdale

Falcon was first elected in 2001 to represent the riding of Surrey-Cloverdale, and was re-elected in 2005 and 2009. He was appointed minister of transportation on Jan. 26, 2004, and initially served as minister of state for de-regulation. He was later appointed minister of health, but resigned the portfolio when he declared his leadership bid Nov. 30.

Before his election to the Legislative Assembly in 2001, Falcon was president of Access Group, a corporate communications firm he founded in 1998. He has also worked in the real estate development industry and was vice-president of Northwest Investment Properties. He received his Bachelor of Arts degree from Simon Fraser University, and his real estate education at the University of British Columbia.

His platform: Falcon proposes lowering the HST to 11 per cent immediately and by one per cent further later. He also would seek to have the HST referendum moved to an earlier date and said he would abide by the decision expressed by voters in the referendum.

Falson is calling for a merit-pay system for teachers, saying they should be paid according to their teaching skills, not their length of service or level of professional training.

Falcon also calls for an increase to the minimum wage, more accessible childcare and better services for disabled children.