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BC United announce new candidate in West Vancouver-Capilano

Caroline Elliott is named the party's candidate one day after MLA Karin Kirkpatrick says she won’t seek re-election
Caroline Elliott is the new BC United candidate for the West Vancouver-Capilano riding. | Paul McGrath / North Shore News

Less than a day after West Vancouver-Capilano MLA Karin Kirkpatrick announced she will not seek re-election for BC United, the party has announced Caroline Elliott as the party’s candidate in the North Shore riding.

Elliott, 39, is a political commentator, PhD student and has been involved with BC United – formerly the BC Liberal Party – as both a ministerial staffer and a party volunteer for the past 20 years. She was most recently vice-president of the party, resigning that position Friday in order to run as a candidate in West Vancouver-Capilano.

Elliott is a mother of two young children, who are six and four, and also runs a communications business, providing advice for clients in the resource sector.

So far, Elliott is one of only two publicly confirmed candidates in North Shore ridings for the next provincial election, and the only one in what is usually regarded as one of the safest seats in the province for her party.

BC United announced Elliott’s candidacy less than 24 hours after Kirkpatrick announced she wouldn’t run in the next election.

Outspoken commentator

Elliott said Friday she’s running because she wants to help shape the way decisions are made for the public.

“You see the path that B.C.’s on. I’m really troubled by it,” she said, listing high taxes, the rising cost of living, high housing costs and the frustration of North Shore traffic gridlock as among the issues locals are dealing with.

As a political panellist on local TV and radio programs and print opinion writer, Elliott hasn’t been shy about taking on controversial topics. In recent opinion columns she criticized B.C.’s intentions to change the Land Act by entering agreements giving Indigenous groups the power to make public land decisions affecting all people in B.C. In a similar vein, Elliott criticized the NDP government for going along with the Líl̓wat Nation and the N’Quatqua First Nation when they announced a unilateral closure of Joffre Lakes Provincial Park in the fall. Elliott also recently received blowback on social media for criticizing the ouster of Advanced Education Minister Selina Robinson.

Elliott said she doesn’t see her style changing now that she’s a political candidate.

“My whole adult life I’ve spent taking on issues that people aren’t always super comfortable with,” she said. “It doesn’t mean I’m always right. I am willing to say things that aren’t always the warm and fuzzy things.”

As when Kirkpatrick was announced as a candidate in the riding following the retirement of longtime Liberal MLA Ralph Sultan prior to the last election, Elliott was directly appointed as a candidate rather than winning the race in a nomination contest.

That has raised eyebrows in some circles, especially given Elliott’s status as the sister-in-law of party leader Kevin Falcon.

Elliott said, however, that her involvement in politics and the party long predated her sister’s marriage to Falcon.

She added that in cases where the party wants to ensure a diversity of candidates, including younger people, women and members of minority groups, appointing is more likely to get that result because “you don’t often achieve that through nomination meetings.”

“It’ll be up to the voters whether I get a job at all,” she added.

BC United has recently appointed candidates in a number of other seats, while musing about the possibility of a snap election call by the NDP government.

Kirkpatrick’s health challenges changed priorities

BC United announced Thursday that Kirkpatrick, who was elected as a B.C. Liberal MLA in 2020, will not be on the ballot on Oct. 19.

Kirkpatrick said in an interview Friday that her decision not to seek re-election came down to a personal one, following several health challenges, including a breast cancer diagnosis in 2021. Kirkpatrick said while she’s now cancer-free, the health crisis changed her perspective on how she wants to spend her time and make sure she is present for her family.

“Health issues kind of helped me re-frame my personal priorities and what I should be doing,” she said. “I felt if I couldn’t do my job 100 per cent, it wasn’t really fair.”

Kirkpatrick said one of the things she’d like to do is take up music again – noting that before she became an accountant she was part of a rock band that travelled around B.C. and Alberta in the 1980s.

Longtime Sea to Sky MLA also won’t run; Green Party candidate declared

Longtime West Vancouver-Sea to Sky MLA Jordan Sturdy also announced last month he will not seek a fourth term in the upcoming provincial election.

Sturdy, who also sits as a BC United MLA, was first elected in 2013, and re-elected in 2017 and 2020 as a BC Liberal. Before that, he was the mayor of Pemberton, where he still lives and where his family runs North Arm Farm.

Sturdy’s retirement opens up the race for the West Vancouver-Sea to Sky riding, which was a close three-way race in 2020. Sturdy won the riding by only 60 votes following a judicial recount, fending off BC Green candidate Jeremy Valeriote.

Valeriote – a former Gibsons municipal councillor, professional engineer and former staffer with the District of Squamish (who is also married to Whistler CAO Virginia Cullen) – announced in April 2023 he would be running again for the Green Party in the riding.