VANCOUVER (NEWS 1130) — Andrew Wilkinson announced his resignation as BC Liberal leader on Monday following the BC NDP’s majority win in the provincial election.
“There are still roughly half a million votes to count, but it’s clear that the NDP will be forming the next government in British Columbia and that John Horgan will continue as premier,” Wilkinson said.
“Leading the BC 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 added he’s asked the party president to work with the executive to immediately determine a timeline for a leadership selection process to determine his successor.
“So today, we’ve begun the challenging and exciting process of rebuilding the party. And we do so with a very strong base of elected members in the legislature, and a strong membership throughout British Columbia.”
So @bcliberals getting a new leader…. eventually.
No interim leader – @Wilkinson4BC says he’s leaving but he’s not really leaving *yet* – only after a leadership race/election. (seems to me this makes party renewal more challenging)#bcpoli https://t.co/aYVGElHFCb
— LizaYuzda (@LizaYuzda) October 26, 2020
Horgan thanked Wilkinson for his service and dedication to B.C. as opposition leader.
“I’ve done that job, and I’ve often said it is the toughest job in politics. Mr. Wilkinson led the official opposition through a very challenging time for our province. He ran a spirited campaign and I wish him the best in the future,” Horgan said.
“Mr. Wilkinson has made our province and our civic life stronger by offering his ideas and his vision for our province. We are all better for his contributions. I would also like to take the opportunity to thank all candidates from all parties who put their names forward in the election. Our democracy requires brave people to put their hands up, no matter the result.”
The NDP won a majority in Saturday’s election, leading in 55 of 87 seats after in-person votes were counted, while the BC Green Party was ahead in three.
The Liberals led in 29 seats — down from 43 in the 2017 election.
Those numbers could shift some once approximately half a million mail-in ballots are counted, but likely not enough to alter the outcome.
Wilkinson, his party, and several Liberal candidates were dogged by controversy throughout the campaign, ultimately ending the election with at least 14 fewer seats than the 2017 election.
Sexist comments by Liberal candidate Jane Thornthwaite that targeted the NDP’s Bowinn Ma during a virtual retirement roast for long-time MLA Ralph Sultan surfaced during the campaign.
Then Laurie Throness resigned from the BC Liberal caucus after the candidate for the Chilliwack-Kent riding made controversial remarks at an all-candidates debate Wednesday about an NDP plan to provide free contraception.
Wilkinson then came under fire from a long-time supporter and organizer who questioned his leadership.
He did not concede on election night, rather tweeting congratulations to Horgan on the NDP’s win on Sunday.
I’ve just got off the phone with @jjhorgan & congratulated him on his win. The people of B.C. have spoken & I want to thank every @bcliberals candidate & volunteer who helped make this campaign happen. 1/2
— Andrew Wilkinson (@Wilkinson4BC) October 26, 2020
While he said the NDP was likely to form a majority government, Wilkinson pointed out Saturday that more than half a million people who voted by mail — much more than past elections because of the COVID-19 pandemic — still had a right to be heard.
He did not take any questions from reporters that night.
Hundreds of thousands of mail-in ballots have yet to be tallied. Absentee votes cannot be counted until at least 13 days after the election.
However, mail-in ballots are now only expected to affect four races in the election which are considered too-close-to-call.
Wilkinson was first elected as MLA for the Vancouver-Quilchena riding in 2013.
He served as the minister of justice and attorney general until the 2017 provincial election, in which the NDP won a minority government.
He assumed the leadership position in February 2018.
Wilkinson will stay on as leader until the party elects a replacement.
Putting out a release from the Premier’s Office, John Horgan says he wants to thank Wilkinson for his service and dedication as the leader of the opposition.
He goes on to say that he’s done that job, which he describes as the “toughest job in politics.”
Horgan saying we are all better for his contributions to BC.
Editor’s note: This story has been edited to remove an incorrect reference as to who is the interim leader of the BC Liberal Party.