Linda Larson won’t be running for re-election.
“One of the not-best-kept-secrets,” she said. “Two terms is enough.”
She made the announcement ahead of the election so the next local candidate has time to “climatize” themselves in the riding.
There’s no certainty as to when the next election will take place. Larson says the province’s coalition government “isn’t really that stable,” and since it only has one more seat than the BC Liberals, it’s very possible an election will take place sooner than spring of 2021.
“It wouldn’t take much for an election to get called – something major can happen that might have the Green Party not agreeing with government on a critical issue.”
There will be a nomination meeting in the fall to begin the process of selecting the next local Liberal candidate. Larson said she will be making an endorsement but has not announced it yet.
She believes that party leader Andrew Wilkinson has what it takes to become Premier. Her relationship with him is “warmer” than the one she had with former leader Christy Clark.
“I find it easier emotionally to work with Andrew than I did Christy, but there’s a difference obviously than being in power compared to being in opposition.”
Larson is noticing voters beginning to appreciate Wilkinson more, despite negative portrayals in the media depicting him as an elitist. She finds it backwards to criticize his success – she says his affluence is the result of a strong free enterprise system, where he earned an education, worked hard and worked his way up after starting with nothing.
“Why should you feel bad or be punished for being successful.”
Wilkinson is a “Really nice genuine person,” Larson says. Since becoming party leader in February 2018, he has done “extraordinary well” learning what people expect of him, and his intelligence and memory are very impressive.
“I don’t know how he stores that many things in his brain that go back 20 to 30 years.”
Having served on a majority government and as a member of the opposition, Larson says “the job is exactly the same” regardless of which party is in power.
“Just a little more paperwork and it takes a little longer to get stuff done (as a member of the opposition). You don’t have the ear of whatever minister as readily as you might when you’re actually in government.”
When asked why she decided to represent the BC Liberal Party, she said it’s because she supports free enterprise.
“I do not believe in government telling me what to do. Money the government is spending all came from free enterprisers. People who worked hard, hire and employ others and then get taxed – that’s what the government is handing out.”
Larson says she’s extremely lucky with the skill sets brought to the table by constituency assistants Pat Vermiere and Colleen Misner.
“When I started I hired my own people,” she said. “Need to be compatible.”
The decision to enter provincial politics was never actually made by Larson, who “made the mistake of saying if nobody else runs then I’ll put my name in and that was a mistake.”
Nobody else ran?
“That’s the only reason I ended up as MLA. But once I take on a position it gets 100 per cent. While it was not a goal of mine, or something I wanted to make a career or, I attack it with the same enthusiasm as I would any other commitment.”
Any chance Larson will run for federal politics?
“No. I’m getting too old for that jet lag stuff.”
Even within the same timezone, she won’t miss traveling back and forth to Parliament in Victoria. But she does enjoy traveling within the riding, like the two hours of solitude during a trip to Christina Lake.
What Larson will miss the most about the job are the constituents.
“Some of the most incredible people that I would have never gotten the opportunity to know if I didn’t serve as MLA. That’s something I certainly enjoyed and treasured.”
Among Larson’s proudest accomplishments is $5 million she secured in provincial funding for the canal replacement.
“That was me standing at Premier Christy Clark’s office and saying ‘you have to help us,’ and the government responded.”
But beyond the hard-hitting headlines – like the 2014 wildfire in Rock Creek and devastating floods last year in Grand Forks – working as a politician is usually about helping people and groups in smaller ways. She helped connect the Rock Creek Medical Centre and Osoyoos Desert Society with “Every available grant coming their way.”
Larson’s favourite music are the hits from the 1950s and 1960s.
Her favourite constituent is her husband.
Her advice for the riding’s next MLA: Have a strong support system of family and friends. People who will be there whenever needed, despite going long periods without contact due to a politician’s hectic schedule.
“It’s not something you can do without that kind of system. So often you can’t discuss things that are eating away at you with anybody but an immediate family member… that way I can tear a strip off somebody without getting in trouble.”