The BC Liberals leadership debate in Nanaimo is underway. (Greg Sakaki/Nanaimo News Bulletin)

B.C. Liberals elect new leader today as party rebuilds after 16 years in power

Estimated 60,000 party members were eligible to vote online and by phone to replace Christy Clark

A sometimes bruising leadership campaign ends today in Vancouver for British Columbia’s Liberals as they elect a new leader who will be tasked with returning the party to power after a 16 year term in office that ended last summer.

An estimated 60,000 party members were eligible to vote online and by phone to replace Christy Clark, who resigned after the New Democrats formed a minority government with the support of the Green party following a non-confidence vote that brought down the Liberals.

The field of six candidates includes three veterans with deep cabinet experience, two former big city mayors and a first-time member of the legislature from Metro Vancouver.

Mike de Jong, Andrew Wilkinson and Todd Stone were longtime members of Clark’s cabinet.

READ MORE: B.C. Liberal leadership candidates get one last prime-time pitch

READ MORE: Todd Stone campaign forfeits 1,349 B.C. Liberal memberships

READ MORE: Pro-life group releases rank list of BC Liberal leadership candidates

Sam Sullivan, a former Vancouver mayor, was appointed to cabinet in the dying days of Clark’s government last summer.

The field also includes Michael Lee, a Vancouver lawyer who was elected to the legislature last spring, and Dianne Watts, a former Conservative MP and one-time mayor of Surrey.

The B.C. Liberal Party is not affiliated with the federal Liberals. It describes itself as “a made-in-B.C. free enterprise coalition” that includes members of the federal Conservative and Liberal parties.

READ MORE: Dianne Watts, most B.C. Liberals would keep taxpayers’ money

B.C. VIEWS: B.C. Liberal battle getting bitter

READ MORE: B.C. Liberal leadership candidates debate different paths for party

Getting the party back to power after a lacklustre election campaign last May has been a focus of the leadership campaign.

There has been finger-pointing in debates over who was to blame for the Liberal downfall, despite B.C. boasting the strongest economy in Canada.

Some candidates criticized the party’s old guard for failing to address transportation, housing and social policy issues that led to losses in seat-rich Metro Vancouver, once a Liberal stronghold.

De Jong, the former finance minister, set himself apart from the field, defending the Liberal record as he took heat for his tight-fisted control of the province’s purse strings that meant programs aimed at easing financial pressures for people never made it off the drawing board.

Stone, his former cabinet colleague, acknowledged the Liberals were strong economic managers as he argued the party could have done a better job of sharing the wealth, including raising welfare rates.

The Canadian Press

Like us on Facebook and follow us on Twitter.

Just Posted

Reel Reviews: The Wakanda Way

We say, “Black Panther is too shallow to be deep, too disposable to be important.”

Medical foundation closing in on goal with lots of help

Coming right on the heels of the 2018 Scotties women’s curling championships… Continue reading

Robinson Crusoe+Friday sails into Penticton

Children’s Showcase presents Axis Theatre’s take on the classic tale

Heavy snowfall for Coquihalla

Kelowna - Snowfall is expected to continue on the highway until Sunday

Summerland senior constructs intricate Lego models

Chris van Haastregt’s love of Lego began 10 years ago and since then he has assembled numerous models

The 2018 B.C. Games wrap up in Kamloops

The B.C. Winter Games comes to a close after a weekend of fun and excitment

How to keep local news visible in your Facebook feed

Facebook has changed the news feed to emphasize personal connections. You might see less news.

Street Sounds: Glossy ear candy meets deep roots

MGMT’s new drop, Little Dark Age, delves deeper song by song.

Naval ship spills 30,000 litres of fuel in the Strait of Georgia

HMCS Calgary spilled fuel east of Nanaimo and Parksville on Saturday

Changing the picture of family medical care

Efforts ongoing to recruit family physicians for the South Okanagan Similkameen

Penticton Vees drop regular season finale in overtime

Vees end the season with 5-4 loss to Silverbacks

Book Talk: Praise for the novella

It’s too long for a short story and too short for a novel, but the novella is gaining in popularity

B.C. boosts support for former youth in government care

More support coming for rent, child care and health care while they go back to school

Luna Fest issues callout for artist submissions

Festival’s art installations transform downtown Revelstoke in the fall

Most Read