Andrew Wilkinson used Facebook on Saturday to announce he will quit as leader of the B.C. Liberal Party to make way for an interim leader.
Last month, Wilkinson said he would stay on until a permanent replacement was selected after his party was hammered in the snap provincial election.
But now he says he’ll hand over the reins to an interim leader, saying it’s time for him to leave after nearly three years.
“It is now time for me to leave the role of Opposition Leader, as the voters of British Columbia have made their preference clear,” he wrote in a Facebook post Saturday.
“In doing so, I welcome the selection of an interim leader from our caucus and will fully support her or him as our caucus prepares to act as the official Opposition once again.”
During the campaign, Wilkinson came under fire for bullying and sexism , as well as for controversy surrounding anti-LGBT candidates . He faced criticism when a video emerged that showed him laughing at misogynistic comments about an NDP opponent during a Zoom roast.
Liberal MLA Jane Thornthwaite criticized Wilkinson for throwing her under the bus for publicly criticizing her over sexist comments she made about NDP MLA Bowinn Ma, while saying almost nothing for months as male MLA Laurie Throness repeatedly defied the party on abortion and LGBTQ+ rights, calling it “a double standard between the treatment of men and women.”
Former MLA Tracy Redies has backed Thornthwaite’s concerns.
There was a caucus meeting planned for Nov. 25, where Wilkinson was going to face a showdown with MLAs about staying on as leader.
Wilkinson announced he would resign on Oct. 26. He spoke briefly at a news conference, where he answered no questions, saying he would step down “as soon as the new leader is selected.” He has not spoken publicly since.
The fact @Wilkinson4BC announces this on his Facebook page, on a Saturday afternoon, with no @bcliberals press release, no media avail (he has not taken any questions since the election) gives you a sense of the @bcliberals organization right now.
— Rob Shaw (@RobShaw_BC) November 21, 2020
The B.C. Liberals suffered a major blow in the 2020 election. The party lost 14 ridings and were mostly swept out of Metro Vancouver by the NDP. The Liberals now sit at 29 seats, down from the 43 won in 2017 and 49 in 2013.
The party is now reduced mainly to rural ridings in the Fraser Valley, interior and north. However, even in these ridings the party lost seats, with the NDP winning both Langley ridings and both Chilliwack ridings.
In his Facebook post, Wilkinson said the party has a lot of work to do to”rebuild and renew,” which he says will start with tough conversations and sincere reflections.
“There are still many conversations to have about how we can do better. Some of those conversations are taking place right now, some of them publicly. I can confidently say that I did my best for our team and for British Columbia, and I am deeply grateful for the opportunity to serve our province and all of the people who consider this great place their home.”
— With files from Rob Shaw
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