B.C. Liberal Leader Stepping Down After Losing Seats in Election

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B.C. Liberal Leader Andrew Wilkinson; THE CANADIAN PRESS/Darryl Dyck

British Columbia Liberal Leader Andrew Wilkinson is quitting the party’s top job, saying he’ll step down as soon as a replacement is selected.

In a brief statement today, Wilkinson says he’s asked the party president to work with the executive to determine a timeline for the leadership process that will pick his successor.

He says he’ll step down as soon as a new leader is elected.

Wilkinson says the party is now beginning the challenging and exciting process of rebuilding.

The Liberals lost about a dozen seats in Saturday’s election, although there are still 525,000 mail-in ballots yet to be counted.

The Liberal party’s losses gave John Horgan’s New Democrats a majority government.

Wilkinson took on the job as Liberal leader in 2018, replacing Christy Clark, who stepped down when the Liberals lost power after the 2017 election.

“Leading the B.C. Liberals has been a great honour, but now it’s time for me to make room for someone else to take over this role,” Wilkinson, 63, said in his brief statement.

He served in several cabinet positions when in government, including justice and advanced education.

The Liberal campaign during the election centred on promises to cancel the PST for one year, the elimination of the small-business income tax and opening up the province’s public auto insurance system to competition.

But Wilkinson was often on the defensive during the campaign after one Liberal candidate made sexist remarks about an NDP member and another voted as a local councillor against a rainbow crosswalk. Then incumbent legislature member Laurie Throness left the party late in the campaign to continuing running as an Independent after comparing free birth control to eugenics.

The Liberals’ membership chair, Nicole Paul, criticized the party’s leadership on Twitter, saying there has been a “lack of willingness to stand up for diversity, inclusion and the values of B.C. Liberal members — not just the interests of a small group of constituents.”

Before he was elected in 2013 to represent Vancouver-Quilchena, Wilkinson held senior positions in the provincial government.

He was a deputy minister at Economic Development and served in the same position in the premier’s office, where he was responsible for intergovernmental relations.

Outside of politics, he has worked as a lawyer in Vancouver and was educated and licensed as a physician, working as a doctor in Campbell River, Lillooet and Dease Lake.

This report by The Canadian Press was first published Oct. 26, 2020.

The Canadian Press

 
   

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