Hansen endorses Falcon for premier

Finance Minister Colin Hansen prepares to deliver his budget speech on Tuesday.

VICTORIA – Kevin Falcon has added another senior cabinet minister to his endorsement list, as Finance Minister Colin Hansen declared his support with a week to go until the B.C. Liberal leadership vote.

Hansen, the four-term Vancouver-Quilchena MLA and deputy premier, joins Forests Minister Pat Bell, Transportation Minister Shirley Bond, Science and Universities Minister Ida Chong, Public Safety Minister Rich Coleman, Education Minister Margaret MacDiarmid and a dozen other MLAs backing Falcon.

“Kevin’s fiscal platform is sound and I trust his vision for the B.C. economy,” said Hansen, who delivered a status-quo budget this week leaving nearly $1 billion uncommitted in the coming year.

“He has been prudent in his commitments, and I think that bodes well for him as premier.”

Rival candidate George Abbott counts most of the rest of current MLAs among his supporters. Abbott announced his parks policy Friday, including the removal of parking fees from day-use areas in provincial parks and a 10 per cent increase in the budget for parks and protected areas.

Former cabinet minister Christy Clark also promised to eliminate parking fees in parks, in a tourism strategy that would restore Tourism B.C. The agency was absorbed by the provincial government before the 2010 Olympics, a move Clark said was done without consulting the tourism industry.

“We need to have an unbiased strategy to promote tourism that is not imposed by government and is fair to all,” Clark said.

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