Abbott unsure about role in Clark cabinet

Shuswap MLA George Abbott won’t speculate on a possible role in Christy Clark’s cabinet.

Abbott, who placed third in Saturday’s Liberal leadership race, had a brief discussion Sunday with Clark, who rose to the top. He says there was no discussion about him being named a cabinet minister.

“I certainly would give that some serious consideration if offered,” he said when asked if he would be willing to be part of Clark’s cabinet when she is sworn in as premier within the next few weeks.

Abbott has previously served as minister of health, community services, sustainable resource management, aboriginal relations and education.

For the veteran MLA, the next step for the Liberals is to restore its credibility with B.C. voters.

“The government will be able to reform itself,” he said.

“I believe we can be united behind Christy’s leadership.”

On the third and final ballot Saturday, Clark claimed victory, with Kevin Falcon coming in second. 

Abbott’s name dropped off the ballot after the second vote. It’s not the result he had anticipated.

“It was a contest and I knew that going in to this, and I’m not disappointed.” he said.

“If we had been  able to catch Kevin on the first ballot, the outcome may have been different.”

Abbott believes that while his campaign was strong, there are reasons why he wasn’t successful.

“We were unable to do the impressive number of sign-ups achieved in other camps,” he said.

“We fell short in terms of sign-ups. That’s the price you pay for being the rural guy in a campaign where much of the battleground is in urban areas.”

Eric Foster, Vernon-Monashee MLA, had endorsed Abbott, but he now stands behind Clark.

“She brings a lot to the table. She got support from every corner of the province,” said Foster.

“It will give it a different look — a new approach to government. People want some kind of change.”

Clark is a former cabinet minister, who most recently was the host of a radio program in Vancouver.

“She knows how government works. She is not a complete rookie,” said Foster. 

“And with her role in the media, she had a handle on things. She will also have a lot of good people around her.”

Foster supports Clark’s plans to move the referendum on the harmonized sales tax from the fall to this spring.

“I’d like to see it ramped up and let’s get it done,” he said.

“People want to get this behind us either way.”