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BC Liberals need next four years to remake themselves after rocky election, campaign, pundits say

FILE: BC Liberal Leader Andrew Wilkinson answers questions from the media following the speech from the throne in the legislative assembly in Victoria, B.C., on Tuesday, February 13, 2018. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Chad Hipolito

The BC Liberals now have time to remake their party after a disappointing election and campaign: experts

Political watchers are waiting to see what BC Liberal Leader Andrew Wilkinson's next move will be

The BC Liberals were dogged by controversy throughout the election campaign

VANCOUVER (NEWS 1130) – BC Liberal Leader Andrew Wilkinson has conceded the provincial election win to NDP Premier-elect John Horgan, doing it late Sunday afternoon.

So now what?

Wilkinson has not said anything yet about his future, declining to take questions after his post-election speech on Saturday, and conceding Horgan’s win via Twitter.

One political watcher suggests the BC Liberal Party needs to take some time to remake itself.

“They have four years to figure out who they are, who they want to be and also choose a leader who might have a little more political pizzazz,” says Kimberly Speers, a Canadian politics expert at the University of Victoria, in an interview with The Canadian Press.

The BC NDP is now looking forward to four years of majority government in Victoria, making inroads in urban centres, while the Liberals dominated the rural votes.

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Horgan says he is awaiting the final results of the election in mid-November, when about half a million mail-in ballots will have been counted, but he plans on hitting the ground running as B.C. continues to deal with the pandemic.

“We are not unique here in British Columbia. The rest of the world is grappling with the same challenges we are,” Horgan said in an appearance Sunday.

“I believe the best way forward is to make sure that government is there, focused on the needs of individuals, businesses and communities, and we are going to be able to do that coming into the fall and into next spring as we prepare a budget that will be one of the most extraordinary budgets ever tabled in British Columbia.”

Horgan’s previous minority government had tabled a $12.8-billion deficit budget, but that grew to $15 billion during the election based on NDP promises, including a one-time $1,000 recovery benefit for families.

While Horgan and the NDP may no longer be dependent on support from the Green Party, the premier-elect is promising to still work with both the Greens and the Liberals.

“I’m going to work with every single MLA the best as I can because I know how frustrating it was when I was an Opposition member, when I brought forward good ideas and the needs of my community, oftentimes I was dismissed because my neighbours didn’t vote the right way. I will never, never govern that way,” Horgan said.

Horgan also admits he has work to do outside of Metro Vancouver and Vancouver Island.

“I would have liked to see better results in rural British Columbia and I will continue to work hard to build better relationships and better understanding of the challenges in rural British Columbia.”