BC Liberals choose interim leader after Andrew Wilkinson steps down
Then-Liberal leader Andrew Wilkinson looks on as MLA Shirley Bond answers questions during a press conference following the budget speech from the legislative assembly at Legislature in Victoria, on Tuesday, Feb. 19, 2019. (Chad Hipolito / THE CANADIAN PRESS)
VANCOUVER -- An MLA has been selected to lead the BC Liberal Party for now, after Andrew Wilkinson announced he'd stepped down.
Shirley Bond, the representative of Prince George-Valemount, as been elected as the interim leader of the Opposition for the time being.
Bond will head the party until a leadership competition can be held, the Liberals said in an emailed statement Monday.
The former leader announced his intention to step down after losing October's snap election to the BC NDP.
At the time, Wilkinson said he'd resign when a leader or interim leader had been chosen. Over the weekend, he announced he was leaving the role immediately, and called on the party to name a temporary successor.
In a statement issued through the party, Bond thanked her colleagues, including Wilkinson.
"It's now my duty to ensure that the voices of British Columbians from all across the province are heard by (Premier) John Horgan and his NDP government," Bond said.
"We will hold them to account for the decisions that impact us all."
The former cabinet minister said her first steps as leader will be appointing a leadership team and assigning MLA critic portfolios.
Bond has served as deputy premier, as well as minister of jobs, transportation, education, advanced education, health services and justice.
She was B.C.'s first female attorney general.
In a message of congratulations posted on Twitter, Horgan wrote that Bond has been an MLA since 2001, and "has an incredible amount of experience."
He said he's looking forward to working with her.
She responded to his message, writing, "We both know that public service isn't for the faint of heart, but the opportunity to work with an amazing caucus in this capacity is truly an honour."
Last month, another former BC Liberal leader says she wasn't surprised Wilkinson planned to step down.
"Why would you want to stick around? Really, what for?" Christy Clark said in an interview with CTV News after the election.
Clark herself stepped down as leader when the Liberals won the most seats in the 2017 election, but failed to form government.
She said she believes the brand in modern politics is about the party's leader, and that whoever would lead the party next would need to have a message beyond the traditional economic arguments.
"Issues like racial justice, the wage gap for women, access to child care, climate change," she listed as examples.