B.C. Liberal leader Andrew Wilkinson is stepping down after his party lost as many as 15 seats in the Oct. 24 provincial election.
Wilkinson made a brief statement to reporters Oct. 26, taking no questions about the party’s performance in the snap election called by NDP leader John Horgan a year before it was scheduled.
“Leading the B.C. 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. “I’ve asked the party president to work with the party executive to immediately determine the timeline for a leadership selection process to determine my successor as leader of the B.C. Liberals, and I will step down as leader as soon as the new leader is selected.”
NDP leader John Horgan thanked Wilkinson for his contribution to B.C., which included working as a deputy minister before being elected as an MLA and serving in cabinet and then leader of the official opposition.
“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.”
Wilkinson said he will meet with the new caucus once the final vote count is completed, expected to be by Nov. 16. He noted that there are still about half a million mostly mail-in ballots to be counted, a record total that could change the outcome in several constituencies. Among them are Surrey South, where incumbent B.C. Liberal Stephanie Cadieux holds an 800-vote lead, and Surrey-White Rock where B.C. Liberal Trevor Halford emerged from election night just over 700 votes ahead of his NDP challenger.
The B.C. Liberals lost long-time seats in Langley and Chilliwack this time around, and B.C. Liberal incumbent Jordan Sturdy was defeated in a close contest by B.C. Green Party candidate Jeremy Valeriote.
The election, called a year early by NDP leader John Horgan as he rode a wave of personal support from his government’s handling of the COVID-19 pandemic, had one of the lowest turnouts on record in a B.C. general election. Only 52.4 per cent of eligible voters turned out, with more voting in advance polls than on election day as they avoided long lineups.