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Christy Clark resigns as BC Liberal Party leader

Last Updated Jul 29, 2017 at 7:44 am PDT

BC Liberal Leader Christy Clark. (Lasia Kretzel, NEWS 1130 Photo)

Clark plans to officially resign on August 4th

She served as premier for six and a half years

Clark will also be resigning her seat as MLA for Kelowna-West

VICTORIA (NEWS 1130) – Christy Clark has announced that she will resign as leader of the BC Liberals effective August 4th.

She served as premier for six and a half years but failed to maintain her majority in May’s election.

MLA for Langley East Rich Coleman has been chosen as interim caucus leader.

The announcement comes just ten days after John Horgan was sworn-in as premier.

Stephen Smart with the BC Liberal party has confirmed Clark will also be resigning her seat as MLA.

It’s not clear yet who plans to replace Clark as the MLA for Kelowna-West, but Andrew Watson with Elections BC says a by-election must be held within six months.

“If there is a vacancy in the Legislative assembly, a warrant is sent to the chief electoral officers,” explains Watson. “The warrant is sent to the chief electoral officer by either the speaker or the clerk of the legislative assembly, and that six month timeline begins on the date that the warrant is received.”

Watson says the by-election won by Clark in 2013 cost taxpayers approximately $480,000, but the two by-elections held last year in Metro Vancouver each had a price tag of more than half a million dollars.

Associate Professor Hamish Telford with the University of the Fraser Valley says Clark’s legacy is highlighted by the party’s stunning come-from-behind win in the 2013 election.

“She was not welcomed in all quarters as the new leader, but after that victory she had a very solid lead on the party,” says Telford. “I think that she’ll get credit for presiding over a fairly good period of time.”

Telford is surprised by the timing of the resignation. He says it’s risky for Clark to leave when the minority NDP government could fall if the BC Green Party pulls its support.

Meanwhile, UBC political scientists Max Cameron says while she had a legacy of being a formidable politician, that may not be how she’s remembered.

“When people write history books, a lot of attention will be given to the way in which she left office,” says Cameron. “I think it’s really toward the end of her term that we saw some pretty significant mistakes, I think she could have resigned after the election.”

He points to Former ministers Kevin Falcon and George Abbot, both currently out of politics as potential successors.

Premier John Horgan shared his first thoughts following the announcement, tweeting his best wishes to Clark and her family.

“Today we thank Christy Clark for her service to British Columbia.

“We take up the call of public service because we want to make this province a better place. While we represented two different political parties, Ms. Clark and I are united in the belief that, working together, we can build a better future for British Columbia and the people who call this place home.

“As an MLA and as Premier, Ms. Clark fought passionately for what she believed in. I know she will take that passion and energy to her next opportunity. I wish her all the best in her future endeavours.”

Green Party leader Andrew Weaver also issued a statement following the news.

“I want to thank Christy Clark for her years of service to British Columbians, both as an MLA and as Leader of the BC Liberals,” said Weaver. “She has been a fierce advocate for British Columbia, here at home and around the world.

“A highlight of my time in the Legislature was working directly with Christy Clark to implement sexualized violence policy legislation for BC’s post-secondary institutions. Her leadership and willingness to work across party lines on this vital issue has made universities and colleges across this province safer for our students – and for this I am grateful.

“This experience illustrated what we can achieve when members of this house work together. I wish Christy Clark well in her future pursuits and look forward to developing a productive relationship with the next Leader of the BC Liberal Party.”

Read Christy Clark’s full statement below:

Today, I informed my caucus colleagues of my intention to resign as leader of the BC Liberal Party effective Friday, August 4.

Serving as Premier and serving the people of British Columbia for the past six and a half years has been an incredible honour and privilege.

I am so proud of everything our BC Liberal Team has accomplished. From working to make British Columbia Canada’s leading economy and creating more than 200,000 new jobs, to helping thousands of single parents go from welfare to work through the Single Parent Employment Initiative, to British Columbia’s gift to the world, the protection of the Great Bear Rainforest.

I am certain that British Columbia’s best days lie ahead. Because British Columbians can, through hard work, determination, and perseverance, achieve anything they set their minds to.