Vancouver-Quilchena MLA Andrew Wilkinson announces his bid for the B.C. LIberal leadership in Vancouver, Sept. 25, 2017. (Katya Slepian/Black Press)

Wilkinson weighs in for B.C. Liberal leadership

Vancouver MLA says support, experience is province-wide

He’s been a rural doctor, a big-city lawyer and president of the B.C. Liberal Party, and now he wants to take over the leadership.

Vancouver-Quilchena MLA Andrew Wilkinson announced his bid to succeed Christy Clark Monday, with a lineup of caucus support from around the province.

Backers include new MLAs Tom Shypitka in Kootenay East and Doug Clovechok from Columbia River-Revelstoke. Veteran MLAs Donna Barnett from Cariboo-Chilcotin. Mike Morris of Prince George-Mackenzie, Michelle Stilwell in Parksville-Qualicum, and long-time cabinet minister Mary Polak from Langley are supporting Wilkinson.

“And more in the works,” Wilkinson, 59, said in an interview with Black Press.

Painted by the NDP as a silver-spoon representative of Vancouver’s wealthy West Side, Wilkinson stresses his roots as an immigrant from Australia at age four, one of five children. His father worked for the federal government in Kamloops, and then moved to Alberta when he was 14, attending public schools.

Wilkinson was in medical school in Edmonton when he won a Rhodes scholarship to study law at Oxford University in the UK, returning to the University of Alberta to finish his medical degree. Then he worked vacation relief for doctors in Campbell River, Lillooet and remote Dease Lake near the Yukon border. With the Social Credit government cutting back on doctors to stem the growth of health care costs, Wilkinson began practising law instead.

In the Clark government, Wilkinson was advanced education minister, serving briefly as Attorney General before the NDP and Green MLAs defeated the B.C. Liberals on their throne speech and formed a minority government this summer.

Asked about the outsider candidacy of Surrey-White Rock MP Dianne Watts, announced Sunday, Wilkinson refrained from criticizing her directly, as potential rival Mike de Jong did.

“My combination of life experience and experience in government makes me ready to take on the NDP,” Wilkinson said. “We have to get ready for an election, which could happen at any time, and there’s no time for boot camp or training wheels in this job.”

Party members are voting on ranked ballots with the results to be revealed Feb. 3, as the B.C. Liberals get set to face off in the legislature with the NDP-Green government as it launches its first full budget. There are party debates and forums set for Vancouver, Surrey, Prince George, Nanaimo and the Thompson-Okanagan, plus a forum hosted by the B.C. Liberal Indigenous Network.

• Peace River South MLA Mike Bernier is expected to announce his bid for the B.C. Liberal leadership Monday afternoon.

• Abbotsford West MLA Mike de Jong intends to announce his decision on a second bid for the party leadership on Tuesday.

• Kamloops-South Thompson MLA Todd Stone is expected to announce his intentions next week.

• Vancouver-False Creek MLA and former mayor Sam Sullivan announced his leadership bid Sept. 21.

• Rookie Vancouver-Langara MLA Micheal Lee is announcing his leadership campaign Tuesday in Vancouver.

Terrace business owner Lucy Sager, whose most recent political experience is president of the Skeena B.C. Liberal constituency and managing the successful campaign of Skeena MLA Ellis Ross, announced her long-shot bid for he leadership last week.

Just Posted

Search continues near Ashcroft for missing Prince George woman

Jenny Lynn Larocque’s vehicle and dog were found in Venables Valley, but there is no sign of her

U-Save property owner files six lawsuits against District of Hope

One of the lawsuits demands $6,200 to undo the work done on the roundhouse.

Rainfall warning issued across Lower Mainland into the weekend

50 to 70 mm of rain expected to fall starting overnight Friday and into Sunday morning

Husband pleads guilty in relation to 2009 killing of Kulwinder Gill

Abbotsford woman died in hit-and-run conspiracy

Raymond Lee Caissie gets life in prison for murdering Surrey teen in 2014

Judge numbers Caissie among ‘violent merciless men without a conscience’

VIDEO: Sears liquidation sales continue across B.C.

Sales are expected to continue into the New Year

5 to start your day

A South Surrey shooting, Team B.C. wins the 2017 WHL Cup and more

Justin Timberlake invited back to Super Bowl halftime show

A ‘wardrobe malfunction’ with Janet Jackson caused a national controversy during his last appearance

A scary box office weekend for everyone but Tyler Perry

‘Boo 2! A Madea Halloween’ scared up a healthy $21.7 million in its first weekend in theatres

Even as long-form census data returns, Statcan readies for day without it

Wednesday’s release is expected to show immigrants making up a larger share of the population

WATCH: 10,000 signatures gained to stop ‘no pets’ rental policy

Pets OK BC said about 1,700 animals were surrendered to the BC SPCA last year due to housing issues

Silver Creek reacts after remains found, man arrested

Neighbours of property where remains were found say man arrested was sweet and polite

VIDEO: Oprah Winfrey and a celebrities attend ‘B.C. Miracle Concert’

Fundraiser featured Foster, Steven Tyler, The Tenors, Matteo Bocelli, Laura Bretan, Carly Rae Jepsen

Human remains found at Silver Creek property

RCMP have been searching the property in the 2200 block of Salmon River Road for the past three days

Most Read