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BC Election 2020

Andrew Wilkinson Quits, Staying on Until New BC Liberal Leader Chosen

After a struggling campaign and less than three years in the top job, the leader concedes defeat and resigns.

Andrew MacLeod 26 Oct 2020TheTyee.ca

Andrew MacLeod is The Tyee’s Legislative Bureau Chief in Victoria and the author of All Together Healthy (Douglas & McIntyre, 2018). Find him on Twitter or reach him at .

BC Liberal Party Leader Andrew Wilkinson conceded the NDP has won the provincial election and announced he will step down as leader once his party has chosen his successor.

“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 said this afternoon. He spoke for less than two minutes and did not take questions.

Although there are still half a million votes to count, it’s clear the NDP will form government and John Horgan will continue as premier, Wilkinson said.

He said he has asked the BC Liberal president to work with the party executive to determine the timeline for a leadership election process.

“Today we begin 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, people who are determined to make British Columbia a better place for everyone,” he said.

According to the preliminary results, the NDP won 55 seats, the Liberals 29 and the Green three. The Liberals saw their share of the popular vote decline from the last election and lost constituencies they had long held, including several in the Vancouver suburbs and the Fraser Valley.

Throughout the campaign Wilkinson struggled to connect with voters, and his party’s flagship promise to cut the provincial sales tax to zero for a year failed to win people over.

He spent much of the campaign on the defensive, bungling the response to sexist remarks MLA and North Vancouver-Seymour candidate Jane Thornthwaite made during a roast for retiring MLA Ralph Sultan, then dithering on what to do about Laurie Throness after the Chilliwack-Kent candidate made comments that compared providing free prescription birth control to eugenics.

By the fourth week of the campaign, even party insiders were expressing frustration, including membership chair Nicole Paul who wrote on Twitter that the party had a leadership problem. “The BC Liberal Party under Andrew Wilkinson does not reflect values I support,” she said.

Horgan released a prepared statement thanking Wilkinson for his service and dedication to the people of the province as Opposition leader.

“I’ve done that job, and I’ve often said it is the toughest job in politics,” Horgan said. “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.”  [Tyee]

Read more: BC Election 2020

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