Christy Clark to resign as leader of BC Liberals, MLA
One month after a confidence vote ended the BC Liberals' 16-year reign of the province, its leader has announced she'll be stepping down.
In a statement issued Friday, Christy Clark said she'd informed her colleagues of her intention to resign effective Aug. 4. The party confirmed that Clark will also be resigning her seat in the legislature, but her last day is not yet known.
"Serving as Premier and serving the people of British Columbia for the past six and a half years has been an incredible honour and privilege," the statement said.
"I am certain that British Columbia's best days lie ahead. Because British Columbians can, through hard work, determination, and perseverance, achieve anything they set their minds to."
Clark wrote that she was proud of everything her team accomplished during her time with the party, which she's represented in the legislature since 1996 as MLA for Port Moody-Coquitlam, then Vancouver-Point Grey, and finally Kelowna West.
Christy Clark to resign as Liberal Party leader August 4th. Statement below pic.twitter.com/f9ovf42Jz4— CTV Bhinder Sajan (@BhinderSajan) July 28, 2017
In a second statement, this time to supporters, Clark said she was excited to see renewed engagement that she believes will strengthen the party.
She wrote that she loves the party and the province "with all my heart," and reiterated that it was an honour to lead both during her time as premier.
"Together, we have achieved so much – winning a comeback election victory that almost nobody thought possible, positioning British Columbia firmly as Canada's leading economy, and laying a strong foundation for future generations to achieve their dreams here," she said.
She thanked her supporters, saying the party will need them in the coming months and years.
BC Liberals president Sharon White issued a statement following the announcement saying that Clark is considered a "truly transformational premier who leaves British Columbia better, stronger, and with greater potential than ever.
"As I have seen firsthand over the years, she has been fierce, tireless, and immensely generous in building one of the strongest provincial political parties in the country – and deserves our lasting appreciation and gratitude."
White wrote that she must call a meeting of party executives within the next 28 days to come up with a date and plan for a leadership vote.
Former deputy premier Rich Coleman will be serving as interim caucus leader, the party said. He and the rest of the caucus will prepare for the recall of legislature, and will announce critic assignments within a couple of weeks.
Speaking outside the Liberal caucus meeting in Penticton on Thursday, Coleman said that what Clark has given the province should not be forgotten.
"I've never worked with anybody with more passion and love, strength of leadership and management in my entire life than Christy Clark," he said.
"It's a tough day for our family, our BC Liberal family."
Coleman said the party "thinks the world" of Clark, and that members were disappointed by the announcement. He said he knew she was struggling with what she wanted to do, but that ultimately she'd decided that it was time to move on.
"I will value her friendship for the rest of my life. She's just a remarkable person," he said.
He said he thinks Clark has spent the last month focusing on what's most important to her, and her resignation was meant as a way to put the province and her friends in the Liberal caucus first.
Coleman said support for Clark from the caucus never wavered, but that her decision was meant to give the party a chance to refresh.
A leader forever admired. A strong advocate for our province & BC families. 'Thank You' has never been more of an understatement. https://t.co/6SMVnFm8Mk— Rich Coleman (@colemancountry) July 28, 2017
Clark's announcement came nearly a month after a confidence vote on June 29 toppled the narrowly-elected Liberals. All 44 NDP and Green MLAs voted together, against 43 Liberals, in favour of a motion put forward by NDP Leader John Horgan.
Following the vote, Clark met with the lieutenant-governor and suggested that Judith Guichon dissolve government. Instead, Guichon opted to ask Horgan to attempt to form a minority government propped up by the three-MLA Green caucus.
Horgan was sworn in as the province's 36th premier 10 days ago.
The premier thanked Clark for her years of service, and said that he wished her and her family the best.
"While we represented two different political parties, Ms. Clark and I are united in the belief that, working together, we can build a better future for British Columbia and the people who call this place home," he said in a media release.
"As MLA and as Premier, Ms. Clark fought passionately for what she believed in. I know she will take that passion and energy to her next opportunity."
With files from CTV Vancouver's Bhinder Sajan