Newspaper article The Canadian Press

Former B.C. Finance Minister Mike De Jong, Michael Lee Announce Liberal Run

Newspaper article The Canadian Press

Former B.C. Finance Minister Mike De Jong, Michael Lee Announce Liberal Run

Article excerpt

More Liberal leadership hopefuls join B.C. race

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VICTORIA - British Columbia's former finance minister Mike de Jong has announced his bid to lead the provincial Liberal party, joining a race that already includes two other past cabinet ministers and the former mayors of B.C.'s two largest cities.

De Jong made his decision official Tuesday, saying he aims to re-energize a free-enterprise coalition.

It's his second run at the post. He lost to former premier Christy Clark in 2011.

"By bringing together an expanded and diverse team of new supporters, we can develop an exciting vision for our province's future that builds upon our record of having established B.C. as Canada's leading economy," de Jong said in a news release.

His supporters include former Liberal cabinet ministers Teresa Wat and Pat Bell, as well as legislature members John Martin and Simon Gibson.

De Jong, who has served in the legislature for more than 23 years, said he can rebuild the party, which was ousted from office following last spring's election after a 16 years in power.

As finance minister under Clark, de Jong tabled five consecutive balanced budgets even as most other Canadian jurisdictions were in deficit, although experts also note B.C.'s child poverty rate was among the highest in the country.

The race to replace Clark is growing crowded, with as many as eight candidates expected to in the running by the end of the week.

Michael Lee, a member of the legislative assembly for the riding of Vancouver-Langara, also announced Tuesday that he aims to lead the Liberal party.

Lee said in a news release that his goal is to create affordable, connected communities by increasing the housing supply and investing in transit service and infrastructure.

"It's about using all our strengths, including our abundant resources, our innovative health-care system and our remarkable diversity to create and attract more trade and investment to build the best British Columbia," he said. …

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