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BC Liberals stay positive, look ahead following Nanaimo defeat

Last Updated Jan 31, 2019 at 11:47 am PST

Andrew Wilkinson speaks to reporters on Jan. 31, 2019. (Liza Yuzda/NEWS 1130 reporter)

BC Liberal leader not missing a beat after losing the much-needed seat

Andrew Wilkinson says there was great success in candidate Tony Harris' campaign increasing vote share substantially

Wilkinson says their focus is now on the next election

NANAIMO (NEWS 1130) – The BC Liberals are taking stock following Wednesday’s byelection, trying to turn the page after losing a crucial seat to the NDP.

Despite the loss, BC Liberals leader Andrew Wilkinson is focusing on the positive.

“We increased our vote by 28 per cent and it was a huge success at the local level in a town that has voted for the NPD consistently for 47 years except once,” he says.

RELATED: BC NDP holds on to seat after tense by-election in Nanaimo

Wilkinson says the vote share increase speaks to Tony Harris’ successful campaign.

“That will be part of the program as we move into the next election whenever it may be, is to get a lot more candidates like Tony Harris.”

Wilkinson adds the party will take the lessons learned from this campaign and prepare for the next provincial election, which he expects will be sooner rather than later.

“This is a very unstable coalition government now. We’ve seen the erratic and aggressive behaviour from Andrew Weaver this byelection and I suspect he’ll be taking it out on the Premier in the near future,” he says. “And we’ll see how long that coalition lasts.”

RELATED: Some pollsters eating crow after predicting BC Liberal win in Nanaimo by-election

He says the party will need new blood, noting three of their MLAs have indicated that they will not run again, but he says that should be seen as an opportunity to add new faces. The next scheduled provincial election is fall 2021.

Sheila Malcolmson was elected Wednesday night with approximately 49 per cent of votes. Harris finished second with about 40 per cent of the votes.

A win for the BC Liberals would have given the party 43 seats, tying with the NDP-Green alliance and potentially making legislation difficult to pass.

-With files from Lauren Boothby