VANCOUVER (NEWS 1130) — The BC Liberals have elected Shirley Bond as the party’s interim leader.
The 28 Liberal members of the legislature voted for the Prince George-Valemount MLA to fill the role until a permanent replacement is voted in, following Andrew Wilkinson’s departure as the party’s head over the weekend.
New interim leader @bcliberals @shirleybond.
Caucus charin @Stephanie4BC.
This comes after leader @Wilkinson4BC announced over the weekend on facebook he was stepping down.#bcpoli @NEWS1130 pic.twitter.com/nQ91Dj4own
— LizaYuzda (@LizaYuzda) November 23, 2020
“I appreciate the confidence and trust my colleagues have placed in me as we work together to hold John Horgan and the NDP government to account in the coming months,” said Bond in a release. “I want to thank Andrew Wilkinson for his service as leader over the past several years and I look forward to continuing to work with him and our entire team of new and returning MLAs to present a positive vision for this province.”
She added it’s her duty to ensure all British Columbians are heard and that Horgan’s NDP government is held accountable.
“In the coming days, I’ll be meeting with caucus members, appointing a leadership team, and assigning MLA critic portfolios,” Bond said.
Congratulations @shirleybond on becoming interim leader of the BC Liberals. As an MLA since 2001, she has an incredible amount of experience. Looking forward to working with her in her role as leader of the opposition to support British Columbians through the pandemic and beyond.
— John Horgan (@jjhorgan) November 23, 2020
Bond was first elected as an MLA in 2001 for Prince George-Valemount. She has served as cabinet minister in several roles and was the first woman in B.C. to hold the position of attorney general.
The Liberals also appointed Stephanie Cadieux as the party’s new caucus chair.
The MLAs will be officially sworn in on Nov. 27.
Two days after the Liberals were defeated in B.C.’s provincial election last month, Wilkinson announced he would be stepping down as the party’s leader. He initially said he would stay on as leader until the party selected a new one, but quit entirely in a Facebook post on Saturday.
Campaign controversy ends in lost seats
Throughout the campaign, Wilkinson, the party, and other candidates faced several controversies and eventually ended up with 15 fewer seats than the 2017 election.
Sexist comments by Liberal candidate Jane Thornthwaite targetted an NDP candidate during a virtual roast surfaced, and she ultimately lost her seat. Thornthwaite criticized Wilkinson for how he handled the leaked video, saying that he threw her under the bus during the ordeal.
Wilkinson accepted the resignation but failed to take a stronger stance on the remarks.
His leadership was later questioned by a long-time supported and organizer, saying Wilkinson didn’t represent party values.
In Wilkinson’s announcement over the weekend, he said it’s time for the party to “rebuild and renew — and that starts with tough conversations and sincere reflections.”
“New conversations are happening about what is important to people now,” he wrote. “Things like access to housing that works for the different ways that people live their lives. Affordable and efficient transportation and quality healthcare must be a priority for every government going forward. Equality and opportunity for everyone and protection of LGTBQ2S rights need to be integral parts of policies and plans throughout government, because these are fundamental to the fairness and equality that we all seek.”
-with files from Nikitha Martins