|After five rounds of balloting BC Liberals went with Andrew Wilkinson|
to take over from Christy Clark as leader on Saturday night
Saturday night in a downtown Vancouver hotel convention hall, the British Columbia Liberals selected Andrew Wilkinson as their new leader, choosing to go with a long time, familiar face around the party to take their challenge to the new NDP government.
A signal perhaps that they're quite happy to stand ready to defend their record of the last sixteen years or so, holding firm to some of their decisions when it comes to their days of governance from the past.
Wilkinson, a former cabinet minister and president of the party, came from the mid spot in the pack of six hopefuls to claim a fifth round victory, securing the second choice votes from those who fell during the vote count early in the evening on Saturday night.
Former Surrey Mayor Dianne Watts, who left federal politics as Conservative MP for the Surrey area to take up the quest for leadership, set the pace for much of the night, leading in each round of results that was announced, except for the one that counted the most.
An inability to grow her vote from second choice balloting saw her lead decrease with each round, giving the two term MLA for Vancouver Quilchena, who having staked his claim to second place in the fourth round, had the opportunity to jump to the top of the listings in the final round of voting.
Falling by the wayside one after another on the night, were Sam Sullivan, Mike de Jong, Todd Stone, and Micheal Lee, candidates who never seemed to rise to the status of everyone's favourite second pick.
For Wilkinson, with careers as a former doctor and lawyer listed among some of his previous occupations and community involvements, building a network of current and former Liberal MLA's and party officials seemed to have provided the foundation for the final push, as the 60,000 or so party delegates who voted online and over the phone decided to keep the leadership in the Liberal establishment for the most part.
When the final results were announced, Mr. Wilkinson had a five percent lead over the long serving Surrey politician, taking the Liberal title with 52 percent of the vote, compared to Ms. Watts at near 47 percent.
The new leader who inherits more than a bit of political turmoil from former Premier Christy Clark will be looking to not only rededicate the Liberals at the grass roots and across the province, but to also put the focus on the alliance between the NDP and Greens in the Legislature, eager to try and push them apart on major issues once the new session arrives.
He also will be looking to sidetrack the NDP/Greens ambitions to move BC towards their planned electoral reform initiative, that despite the rather ironic way in which he claimed the Liberal title, that by way of a preferential balloting session.
A bit of political theatre that no doubt will be something that NDP Premier John Horgan probably will take note of the first time Wilkinson weighs in on the theme in the months to come.
Mr. Wilkinson made travel to the Northwest a key part of his campaign for the leadership, calling on his past experiences prior to politics in Northern BC and elsewhere in the province as an indication that he understands the issues of the region.
His approach resonated with both John Rustad of Nechako Lakes and Skeena MLA Ellis Ross, the latter was early to endorse the candidate and expanded on why he had thrown his support to the candidate with this video post to his Facebook page.
With Wilkinson now at the head of the BC Liberals, Mr. Ross would seem poised to build on his already high profile in the Legislature, as the new leader prepares to make decisions on shadow cabinet spots.
A pair of stopovers in Prince Rupert in October and January, provided for the theme of economic development to the North Coast. With the candidate taking note of the stalled LNG proposals in the region and the need to create stable employment opportunities for those living in Prince Rupert and other communities of the region.
During his Meet and Greets in the community he also spoke to issues such as Housing and Health care for the northwest.
The North Coast BC Liberal Party Riding Association has a review of the full leadership vote posted to their Facebook page, the new BC Liberal's first speech at the helm of the party comes at the end of the overview from Saturday night's presentation.
Some reviews of Saturday night's rise to the leadership can be found below:
Andrew Wilkinson becomes leader of the Official Opposition after wining B.C. Leadership race to succeed Christy Clark
Andrew Wilkinson named new leader of BC Liberals
Andrew Wilkinson wins B.C. Liberals leadership
Andrew Wilkinson elected B.C. Liberal leader
With Wilkinson, B.C. Liberals opt for tried and true over a change in culture
B.C. Liberals pick former provincial minister Andrew Wilkinson as new leader
B.C. Liberals select Andrew Wilkinson as new leader
Andrew Wilkinson takes B.C. Liberal leadership
BC Liberals opt for veteran over fresh face in leadership race
Can the Liberals' brainy new boss win big?
Andrew Wilkinson is the new BC Liberal Party leader
Andrew Wilkinson wins BC Liberal leadership on the fifth ballot
Andrew Wilkinson elected leader of B.C. Liberals
BC Liberals pick Andrew Wilkinson as leader
New B.C. Liberal leader pledges to fight NDP over Trans Mountain pipeline
Shedding old political baggage will be new BC Liberal leader Andrew Wilkinson's first hurdle
'He reminds me of Gordon Campbell;: Meet Andrew Wilkinson, the newly elected leader of the B.C. Liberals
With their new leader, the B.C. Liberals show they're in it to win it
Is your skin crawling yet?
Why Andrew Wilkinson should not be underestimated by progressive British Columbians
Liberals choose status quo With Wilkonson
Wilkinson's first challenge as B.C. Liberal leader is to show change
No late nights for workaholic Wilkinson
The accounts of Mr. Wilkinson's tours of the Northwest and support found in the region can be reviewed below:
Andrew Wilkinson tour of Northwest
BC Liberal candidate Andrew Wilkinson visits Prince Rupert
BC Liberal leader hopeful Wilkinson shares vision with Rupertites
BC Liberal leadership candidate Wilkinson visits Smithers
Liberal leadership candidate stops by Smithers
Third time's the charm? Liberal leadership candidate touring Northern BC once again
Andrew Wilkinson pays visit to Burns Lake
Ross backs Wilkinson for head of BC Liberal
Liberal leadership candidate wants Premier Office in the North
BC Liberal leadership hopefuls address issues at Northern BC Debate
B.C. Liberal MLA Andrew Wilkinson visits the North Coast as leadership campaign continues
Andrew Wilkinson tours Northwest as part of BC Liberal leadership campaign
Wilkinson visits Prince Rupert
Issues and political developments of note for the North Coast and Skeena ridings can be reviewed from our links below:
For more items related to Provincial politics see our Victoria Viewpoints feature on our political blog D'Arcy McGee.
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