Abbott ready for Saturday vote

Shuswap MLA George Abbott is entering the home stretch in his bid to become B.C.’s premier.

Liberals will select a new party leader, and the province’s next premier, during an online and telephone process Saturday.

“I’m cautiously optimistic about the outcome. I’ve had a great campaign,” Abbott told The Morning Star.

However, Abbott admits that some variables may create challenges, and one of them particularly is the new voting structure being used by the party.

Under the structure, 100 points will be assigned to each of the 85 constituency associations and they then will be divided proportionally.

Another factor, according to Abbott, is the apparent popularity of former cabinet minister Christy Clark.

“With the big city media, she is the perceived front runner but the media and the pollsters don’t  have access to the Liberal membership list,” he said. “We are a much stronger second than Christy would like to say.”

Since announcing he would seek the leadership of the party in November, Abbott has been touring the province and has garnered the support of 21 cabinet ministers, MLAs and former leadership hopefuls.

The latest is Donna Barnett, MLA for Cariboo-Chilcotin.

“George has demonstrated that he has the ability to bring together our diverse communities, our diverse regions, and our diverse citizens to listen and to solve problems,” said Barnett.

“George is the guy I trust to bring the style of leadership and commitment that we need to unite our party and take on the NDP in 2013.”

Abbott believes he has received support from his colleagues because of his willingness to co-operate and communicate.

“It’s the first indicator of my ability to work with people.”

If he is elected party leader Saturday, Abbott says the first step will be to establish a transition process between current Premier Gordon Campbell and himself. Among the duties would be considering who would form his cabinet.

“It will be head down between Saturday and the swearing in of the government about two weeks in from now,” he said.

And if one of the other three candidates becomes leader, Abbott insists he’s willing to get behind them and ensure the Liberals prepare for re-election in 2013.

“I would look forward to working with who ever is the leader to help in what ever capacity I can,” he said.