Fort Langley-Aldergrove MLA Rich Coleman announced Tuesday morning that he will definitely be running in the 2013 provincial election.
Coleman is currently the minister of energy and mines, and is also responsible for housing. He has served in numerous cabinet posts since the BC Liberals were elected government in 2001.
On Wednesday morning, he was also named deputy premier. Fellow Langley MLA Mary Polak was named minister of transportation and infrastructure, replacing Blair Lekstrom, who announced Tuesday that he is not running again.
Coleman was first elected in 1996, when the BC Liberals formed opposition to then-premier Glen Clark’s NDP government. He was re-elected in 2001, 2005 and 2009.
“I’m strongly committed to Premier Christy Clark and the rest of the BC Liberal team as we seek a new mandate in 2013,” said Coleman.
“When I entered politics in 1996, I was very concerned about the damaging impact of NDP policies and wanted my children to have a better future in British Columbia. Today, I feel as strongly as ever that my children’s and grandchildren’s future needs to be protected. I’m seeking another term to help ensure that British Columbia’s economy moves forward not backward.”
His announcement comes at a critical time, as three cabinet ministers announced last week they would be stepping aside. They include Finance Minister Kevin Falcon and Education Minister George Abbott, who were runners-up to Clark in the 2011 Liberal leadership race.
Coleman’s opponents in the 2013 election have yet to be determined. Shane Dyson and Gail Chaddock-Costello, both of whom have run against him before. are seeking the NDP nomination in the riding. The BC Conservatives have not named a candidate in Fort Langley-Aldergrove as yet.
Coleman told The Times that he decided to run again after “reflecting on what I wanted to do.” He realized that his initial reason for running provincially back in 1996 had been to make B.C. a better place for his kids. Now that he has three grandchildren, he wants to make the province a better place for them.
Coleman said he made the announcement on Tuesday because the premier is expected to do a cabinet shuffle this week, and he wanted to let her know he was sticking with the BC Liberal team. He is confident that the party has a chance to retain power in May, despite recent dismal showing in opinion polls.
“I have been talking to people on a one-to-one basis in recent months, about keeping the coalition together. Conservatives in my area are supportive. We can rebuild the coalition, and I think I could be a big part of that.”
Coleman said the Liberals are holding their convention in Whistler in October, and everything from the party name on down will be on the table. He said the party is a “big tent” party that will keep the economy strong. He cited a recent meeting he had in The Netherlands with Shell Oil, in his capacity as energy minister, and said investors around the world know that B.C. is a great place to invest and create jobs.
As for the BC Conservatives, who are holding their convention at the Langley Events Centre later this month, Coleman said he would be quite happy to meet members of the party in the parking lot and sell them BC Liberal memberships. His constituency office is located in the building, which he helped get underway when he made $15 million of provincial money available for it to be built.