B.C. Liberal leader Andrew Wilkinson with Nanaimo by-election candidate Tony Harris, Jan. 12, 2019. (Karl Yu/Black Press)

Post-Nanaimo, Andrew Wilkinson talks B.C. Liberal renewal

At least three current MLAs not running in next election

They’ll make their own retirement announcements when they choose, but at least three veteran B.C. Liberal MLAs will be retiring before the next election, party leader Andrew Wilkinson Thursday.

Speaking in Nanaimo the morning after watching the NDP’s Sheila Malcolmson hold the seat vacated by now-mayor Leonard Krog, Wilkinson said the performance of first-time candidate Tony Harris represents his idea of the next generation for the B.C. Liberals.

RELATED: Malcolmson wins Nanaimo seat for B.C. NDP

“At least three of our B.C. Liberal MLAs have signalled they’re not running again, and that’s the opportunity for candidates like Tony, people who are young, enthusiastic and know their community,” Wilkinson told reporters.

Long-serving MLAs who have stepped back from key opposition roles include Mike de Jong in Abbotsford West and Rich Coleman in Langley East, while Prince George-Valemount MLA Shirley Bond has continued her aggressive work both as finance critic and as a party organizer.

Harris increased the B.C. Liberals’ share of the vote in Wednesday’s by-election, but a win by former area MP Sheila Malcolmson extended the NDP’s long hold on the Nanaimo seat. Premier John Horgan’s NDP retain a two-seat minority hold on power, thanks to an increasingly strained relationship with the B.C. Greens.

Harris was criticized during the intense by-election campaign for downplaying his party affiliation. He stuck mostly to community issues, while the NDP ran a negative campaign, accusing Wilkinson and the B.C. Liberals of being complicit in the legislature spending scandal and the rise of money laundering in Vancouver and Richmond.

All party leaders made appearances in Nanaimo to rally volunteers and knock on voters’ doors. Wilkinson was there Jan. 12, but made no brave predictions of an upset win in a seat that the NDP has only lost once since 1971.

Appearing with Wilkinson at his campaign office that day, Harris continued said his community-focused campaign isn’t about the party’s image.

“The biggest impact I can have is bringing attention to what’s really important here,” Harris said. “My focus on Nanaimo is bringing attention and investment to institutional areas of our community, whether it’s hospital, port and university, but when we really focus on these key areas in our community it drives more investment from private enterprise.”

B.C. Green leader Andrew Weaver put a brave face on the result, which saw the Green vote collapse to about eight per cent, down from 20 per cent in the general election of 2017. Weaver alluded to voters’ fear of vote-splitting, something he attacked the NDP for “fear-mongering” about during the hotly contested by-election.

“While disappointing, tonight’s results were not unexpected, given the conversations we have had with Green voters over the past few weeks,” Weaver said after the result Wednesday night. “I can say with absolute certainty that our support exceeds the votes cast for the party today.”


@tomfletcherbc
tfletcher@blackpress.ca

Like us on Facebook and follow us on Twitter.

Just Posted

Risk of ‘deadly avalanches’ leads to warning for B.C.’s south coast

Weak layer of snow on Vancouver Island, Lower Mainland could trigger an avalanche

Another snowfall warning for Lower Mainland

Another 5-10 cm expected for Metro Vancouver, Fraser Valley and Sunshine Coast

Harrison to participate in inter-municipal business licence program

Construction companies and related businesses will be able to work across the Fraser Valley in 2020

Saskia and Darrel kick off spring tour with Chilliwack concert

Stories of the Great Plains delivered in Gaelic, French and more

RCMP officer reaching out to youth about intimate partner violence

Chilliwack officer and friends of Maple Batalia team up to encourage bystanders to speak up

VIDEO: Wheelchairs teach Agassiz students acceptance through sport

Teacher Donna Gallamore brought wheelchairs to the Kent Elementary for learning and fun

Galchenyuk scores in OT as Coyotes edge Canucks 3-2

Vancouver manages single point as NHL playoff chase continues

B.C. legislature moving suspended staff controversy to outside review

Whale watching, Seattle Mariners trips billed as emergency preparedness, Speaker Darryl Plecas says

Two boys saved after falling through ice in Coquitlam

RCMP say a Good Samaritan pulled the kids to safety

More people signing up for compulsory vaccines

Maple Ridge mom says public tired of hearing about measles

UPDATE: Man charged in stabbing of woman, off-duty cop outside B.C. elementary school

Manoj George, 49, is facing two counts of aggravated assault and two counts of assault with a weapon after the incident on Wednesday, Feb. 20.

Why do zebras have stripes? Perhaps to dazzle away flies

Researchers from University of Bristol look into why zebras have stripes

Poll: More voters believe Canada doing worse under Trudeau government

22 per cent believed the country is doing better and 27 per cent said things are the same

HBC shuttering Home Outfitters across Canada

North America’s oldest retailer is revamping its various stores to improve profitability

Most Read