Shirley Bond
(BC Liberal Caucus/Twitter)

Six-term MLA and former cabinet minister Shirley Bond has been elected interim leader of the official opposition by the BC Liberal Caucus.

The Monday morning vote by the Liberals’ 28-member caucus comes on the heels of an abrupt resignation from outgoing leader Andrew Wilkinson on Saturday.

Wilkinson, who announced on Facebook that he would step down immediately as leader, had previously said he intended to stay in his role until a formal leadership race was held to replace him.

He has faced a storm of criticism from within his party’s ranks, including a rebuke from BC Liberal Membership Chair Nicole Paul, who wrote on Twitter that the Liberals “have a problem in the leadership of the party and their lack of willingness to stand up for diversity, inclusion and the values of BC Liberal members.”

During the election, Wilkinson was also criticized for his handling of a controversy that emerged out of a digital roast involving Liberal candidate Jane Thornthwaite making sexist remarks towards the NDP’s Bowinn Ma.

Wilkinson’s immediate remarks following the incident centered on Thornthwaite and appeared to distance himself from the issue.

After the election, Thornthwaite denounced Wilkinson for “throwing her under the bus” in a blistering op-ed in the Vancouver Sun.

I hope that whoever steps up to lead our B.C. Liberal Party recognizes the critical importance of instilling the right culture to ensure renewal and rebuilding,” Thornthwaite wrote.

Bond is a veteran of the BC Liberal party, and held positions in cabinet under Premiers Gordon Campbell and Christy Clark.

The MLA for Prince George-Valemount also recently served as finance critic under Wilkinson during John Horgan’s first term.

“I appreciate the confidence and trust my colleagues have placed in me as we work together to hold John Horgan and the NDP government to account in the coming months,” said Bond in a statement. 

“I want to thank Andrew Wilkinson for his service as leader over the past several years and I look forward to continuing to work with him and our entire team of new and returning MLAs to present a positive vision for this province.”

Bond added that she would be appointing a leadership team and assigning MLA critic portfolios in the coming days. The BC Liberal Caucus also appointed Stephanie Cadieux as their new Caucus Chair.

BC Liberal party MLAs will officially be sworn in on November 27, 2020. The BC Legislature is scheduled to be back in session on December 7, 2020.

 

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