British Columbia

B.C. Liberals' interim leader says party's 1st priority is to listen to and learn from British Columbians

Veteran MLA Shirley Bond is tasked with starting the revamp of a party that lost vote shares in every region of the province in the October election.

MLA Shirley Bond tasked with starting revamp of party that lost vote share in every region of the province

Now interim B.C. Liberal leader Shirley Bond, right, with former leader Andrew Wilkinson at the legislature in Victoria in February 2019. (Chad Hipolito/Canadian Press)

The newly appointed interim leader of the B.C. Liberals says one of her first tasks will be to find out what went wrong in this fall's B.C. election — in which the party lost vote share in every region of the province — and how to fix it.

Veteran MLA Shirley Bond, who has represented Prince George-Valemount in the legislature for 19 years, was chosen Monday as interim leader of the party after former leader Andrew Wilkinson stepped down.

The Liberals lost 15 seats in the October election, giving the B.C. NDP the gains it needed to form a majority government.

In order to win back votes, Bond says the party will spend the next few months engaging with past MLAs and candidates, as well as British Columbians, to find out what the party can do differently and how to resonate better with voters, especially in urban areas.

"We were the No. 1 job creator, but British Columbians sent us a message that we needed to be thinking about other things as well … about social issues, about things that matter to families in the province," said Bond on CBC's The Early Edition on Tuesday.

Evolving the economy

Bond, who said she lives in a riding where natural resources are very important to people's livelihoods, also spoke about the importance of evolving B.C.'s economy into one that is greener and "knowledge based."

"It's not about either or," she said. 

Bond, who has held many ministerial roles and was the first female attorney general in British Columbia's history, did not say how long her temporary role at the party's helm would last, nor did she speculate about whom she may be handing the reins to.

Wilkinson announced Saturday he would be stepping aside to make room for new leadership. He initially resigned two days after the party had its worst provincial election outcome in a generation, but at that time, he did not say when his resignation would be made official.

Wilkinson's leadership came under criticism from many quarters during his time in charge of the party.

Just weeks before the election, he was criticized for failing to apologize immediately after a video surfaced on social media in which Liberal candidate Jane Thornthwaite made sexist comments about NDP candidate Bowinn Ma.

Bond said she is committed to creating a party culture of acceptance and respect.

"My job is to help us be an effective, professional well performing opposition in the legislature," said Bond.

On Monday, the B.C. Liberal Party also elected Surrey South MLA Stephanie Cadieux as caucus chair.

To hear the complete interview with Shirley Bond on CBC's The Early Edition, tap the audio link below:

With files from The Early Edition


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