Cadieux hopes to see ‘more people like me’ in BC Liberal caucus

By Shannon Waters May 2, 2022

With his own byelection campaign behind him, Liberal Party Leader Kevin Falcon will soon have another on his hands following Surrey South MLA Stephanie Cadieux’s resignation on April 28.

“It is an opportunity for him to be able, right out of the gate, to show what kind of people, what kind of candidates are going to step into the fray under Kevin Falcon’s leadership,” Cadieux told BC Today in a final interview. “I think that’s great. I think renewal is good.”

Surrey South is likely to be a closer race than Vancouver—Quilchena, which the Liberals have held for 30 years. In 2020, the NDP took 43 per cent of the Surrey South vote (up 10 points from 2017) while Cadieux captured 47 per cent, down from 51 per cent in 2017.

Falcon said he looks forward to recruiting “diverse, accomplished, and compassionate candidates” — a nod to the relative lack of diversity in the current Liberal caucus. But even if the Liberal leader might like to see his caucus look a little more like the government’s, Falcon said he’s not interested in using the same strategies to get there.

“We’re not going to do it with quotas like the NDP because, frankly, I think that hurts some of the very folks that you’re trying to attract,” Falcon told the Vancouver Sun. “I want to make sure we go out and find outstanding candidates who happen to be diverse, ethnically, culturally, sexually.”

Cadieux would also like to see her party bring in a wider array of representatives.

“I want to see more people like me — more women, more people with disabilities — take the step to lead and be a part of the political process,” she said.

Former BC Liberal MLA Stephanie Cadieux, seen here in 2011, served served as minister of children and family development, minister of social development, minister of community, sport and cultural development, and minister of labour, citizens’ services and open government. (Government of B.C.)

After 13 years in provincial politics, Cadieux told BC Today she is looking forward to moving into a watchdog role as Canada’s first chief accessibility officer and being able to “leave the politics behind.”

“I am really excited to move now into a non-partisan role where I can … focus every day on changing things inside the system without the political lens on top [and] work with my allies, no matter who they are, to do that.”

The partisan habit of pointing fingers is one Cadieux said she will not miss.

“I don’t think it serves the voters well,” she said. “No government gets everything right or gets everything wrong, and sometimes decisions are made, even with the best of intentions or by necessity, that don’t have the [desired] outcomes.”

“There is strength in showing and admitting where things don’t work,” she added.

Cadieux leaves with two pieces of business unfinished: her private member’s pay transparency legislation and a bill that would implement accessibility standards for new housing. The NDP has taken up pay transparency as an issue of its own — with a consultation on forthcoming legislation set to start later this spring — and Cadieux hopes to see the province make strides on accessible housing as well.

Stephanie Cadieux, seen here in 2017, served as the opposition critic for ICBC. (Government of B.C.)

“It’s a vacuum,” she said of the state of B.C.’s accessible housing stock. “How does one focus on employment, or access to other government services or whatever, if one can’t even get in and out of one’s own home?”

B.C. is still in the process of implementing its own accessibility legislation, and Cadieux, in her new federal role, may have a part to play as national and provincial standards are set.

“Ideally, there will be liaison with the provinces … in terms of what they’re doing and in terms of how all of these things fit together down the line.”