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Pro-Falcon group skirts leadership spending cap

Liberal leadership candidate Kevin Falcon is MLA for Surrey-Cloverdale and former health minister. - File
Liberal leadership candidate Kevin Falcon is MLA for Surrey-Cloverdale and former health minister.
— image credit: File

A third-party group backing Kevin Falcon's Liberal leadership bid won't say how much cash it's raised so far or expects to spend.

The Falcon 20/20 organization has amassed high-profile corporate support but is exempt from the party's leadership campaign rules that cap spending by Falcon and other would-be premiers at no more than $450,000.

The loophole could allow the official campaign to circumvent the spending limit – which Falcon has criticized as low – but the organizer of Falcon 20/20 played down that possibility.

"This is on a pretty tight budget," said Ryan Beedie, president of the Beedie Group, a Burnaby-based industrial property development firm. "It's not some six-figure number."

Beedie said he checked with Elections BC and was told there is nothing in law that prohibits the group from advertising in support of a leadership candidate, provided it steers clear of any recall campaigns underway.

"Nobody can really stop us from doing it, with respect," he said.

"It's a free country and we can do what we want. If somebody wants to challenge that, that's for others to decide."

Beedie said the group is primarily a network where business leaders backing Falcon fan out further and seek to bring in more supporters.

The group has purchased some newspaper ads but he added it's "not an expensive campaign."

Falcon 20/20 has recruited a list of 143 business executives so far publicly backing the Surrey-Cloverdale MLA and former health minister for premier.

Prominent supporters include former federal Liberal cabinet minister David Emerson, Kingsway Financial president Joe Segal and Sandman Hotel Group CEO Tom Gagliardi. For complete list, see www.falcon2020.ca/supporters/.

Beedie said the leadership vote is a once-in-a-generation chance for Liberal supporters to play a role in directly electing the next premier.

Falcon 20/20 came under increased scrutiny this week after Christy Clark described the organization as a collection of "insiders" and suggested Falcon's campaign is not sufficiently inclusive.

Falcon responded saying Clark's attack was something he'd expect of a New Democrat not a fellow Liberal and that she'd likely be "thrilled" if she had his level of support.

“Glib, off-the-cuff comments might make for good ratings on a talk show, but if you want to be leader of our party and premier of our province, you have to know that your words have power," Falcon said. "So, pick them carefully, and put them to work uniting British Columbians, rather than dividing us.”

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