Kevin Falcon BA'94

Kevin Falcon, B.C.’s Minister of Transportation and Infrastructure, gets plenty of airtime and print space. His issues run the gamut from the Sea-to-Sky Highway (Highway 99) to the northern reaches of the Gateway Project (a $3-billion initiative that will ensure B.C.’s potential as the Asia-Pacific Gateway to North America is realized) – and everything in between. He survives the spotlight well; indeed, he seems to thrive on the controversies.

He was first elected Member of the Legislature in 2001 to represent the riding of Surrey-Cloverdale. He initially served as Minister of State for Deregulation and was appointed to the transport ministry in January 2004.

You cut your teeth on student politics at SFU. What political lessons did you learn there?

The most important lesson I learned was how important it is to get involved. At the time I was there I felt there was an unfair collective agreement in place that worked to the benefit of the employees of the student union, but wasn’t best for the students. It was important to get involved and raise those issues and bring some balance to the situation.

Why did you go into politics?

The reason was primarily the economy. At that time the B.C. economy had fallen to the bottom in Canada and I thought British Columbians deserved better. I knew tough decisions had to be made and I was happy to be part of the group making them. Today B.C. and Alberta are tied as the strongest economies in Canada.

What’s your biggest challenge as Minister of Transportation and Infrastructure?

Just trying to keep track of hundreds of projects worth billions of dollars. There has never been a time in history with so many projects underway at once that are critically important to our economy.

How do you balance instituting the carbon tax with twinning the Port Mann Bridge?

Actually the Port Mann Bridge is a 45-year-old bridge that is feeding the fastest growing part of the province, which is Surrey and surrounding communities. When we twin the bridge we will have bike lanes, HOV lanes, and dedicated bus lanes that can later be converted to rapid transit. So there are many aspects, including the fact that it will be a toll bridge, that are entirely consistent with trying to change driver behaviour.

What’s your best memory of SFU?

The camaraderie, spending time with friends, taking courses, the intellectual sparring that goes on at university.

Were there any faculty members who had a particular influence on you and your thinking?

Herb Grubel had a great economics course.

What do you do in your spare time (assuming you have any)?

I really enjoy it when I have time to mountain bike and hike.

What are you reading right now?

I’m reading a lot of different things: David Sedaris’s Me Talk Pretty One Day, Tolstoy’s War and Peace, Lionel Shriver’s We Need to Talk About Kevin, and I really like anything by John Steinbeck.

Photograph: courtesy Kevin Falcon.