February 10, 2018 6:30 pm
Updated: February 10, 2018 7:16 pm

Andrew Wilkinson shaking up B.C Liberal leadership team

Andrew Wilkinson speaks to the audience during the B.C Liberal Leadership debate in Vancouver, B.C., on Tuesday January 23, 2018.


Mike de Jong didn’t just lose the Liberal leadership. He lost his job as House Leader as well.

The former finance minister is being replaced in the pivotal leadership role by Mary Polak, the former environment minister who supported new leader Andrew Wilkinson in the party’s most recent leadership campaign.

De Jong has served in the legislature since 1994 and was the House Leader for Clark while also serving as finance minister. The job comes with a $21,000 salary top-up in addition to the MLA salary.

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The move is the first major shakeup by Wilkinson since getting elected leader on Feb. 3.

The former advanced education minister won the leadership after defeating Dianne Watts on the final ballot.

De Jong and Wilkinson were seen as having similar visions for the party, asking their supporters during the leadership campaign to put the other as their second choice.

“Andrew and I have heard from members that we are the two candidates who are best qualified and most prepared to lead the party in Opposition,” according to a statement on de Jong’s website. “We are the leaders who can build the support of British Columbians necessary to win the next election.

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“It is time to come together as a party and I ask you to mark a second choice on your ballot.”

De Jong finished fifth on the first ballot of the race.

In addition, Vancouver-Langara MLA Michael Lee will take on the role of critic for the Attorney General.

“On behalf of caucus, the BC Liberal Party, and the entire province, I thank Mike de Jong for his service as House Leader and Rich Coleman for taking on the interim leadership of our party,” Wilkinson said in a statement.

“As caucus members they will play important roles as mentors and senior members of our team. They have always been, and will continue to be, invaluable contributors to the free-enterprise movement. We are all indebted to them for their service to B.C.”

Wilkinson also named his senior staff last week.

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Spencer Sproule, former senior adviser for Pacific NorthWest LNG, has been named chief of staff.

Former Christy Clark staffers Jennifer Chalmers, Rebecca Scott and Shane Mills have also been named in senior roles in the Leader of the Official Opposition office.

Sproule, Chalmers and Scott worked on Wilkinson’s leadership campaign.

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