The 2018 BC Liberal Party leadership election is over, and Andrew Wilkinson is the party’s new head.
Wilkinson, now the leader of the opposition, takes over for Christy Clark, the former Liberal leader and premier of British Columbia, and Rich Coleman, interim leader. Just last year, the BC Liberal Party suffered its first electoral defeat in 21 years, ending a 16-year streak in government. British Columbia is now governed by the NDP in a minority government, with the Greens supplying three votes to put them over the top.
2018 BC Liberal Party Leadership Election: Results
This leadership convention went all five possible ballots, just like the Saskatchewan Party’s leadership vote a week earlier. Sam Sullivan was the first person eliminated, followed by veteran MLA Mike de Jong. The eventual winner, Wilkinson, came in third place on the first and second ballots.
Todd Stone was next to lose; he was recently embroiled in a controversy over disqualified new party membership sign-ups. Michael Lee was the fourth candidate out of the race.
Wilkinson never led until the final ballot, where he defeated former MP Dianne Watts by a margin of 53 to 47 percent. Watts led on every ballot except the fifth and final.
2018 BC Liberal Party Leadership Election: New Leader Wilkinson
Andrew Wilkinson is the MLA for Vancouver-Quilchena, holding this position since the 2013 election. During his first term while the Liberals were in power, Wilkinson had various cabinet portfolios. His last job was Attorney General of British Columbia, but prior to that, he spent two and a half years as the Minister of Advanced Education.
Prior to being elected, Wilkinson was a doctor, lawyer, Rhodes Scholar, and president of the provincial Liberal Party. His riding of Vancouver-Quilchena is a safe Liberal seat and one of the wealthiest seats in the province.
2018 BC Liberal Party Leadership Election: What Lies Ahead
Assuming the NDP and Greens can make their association work, the next election will not be until 2021. Whereas they are ideologically compatible, it should happen, but what if the NDP loses a by-election? The Liberals are a majority party in that case, and everything gets thrown out the window. Obviously, the likelihood of that happening is unknown, and for all we know, there won’t even be a by-election.
Later this year, the province will hold a referendum on eliminating the first-past-the-post electoral system in favor of a proportional system. That is the more important political development in British Columbia for right now. Short of any surprises, Wilkinson will have several years as opposition leader to watch the polls and plan for the next election.
Other Canadian elections, the calendar, and predictions can be found here.