Andrew Wilkinson announced Monday that he will step down as leader of the BC Liberals, following his party’s projected loss in Saturday’s provincial election.
In an extremely brief statement, he said he will stay on until a new leader is chosen.
The party’s executive council is set to meet over the weekend to discuss a leadership race.
Wilkinson’s announcement comes after the BC NDP’s risk in calling a snap election paid off and won it a projected majority government.
Concerns were raised about his leadership mid-campaign, including from the party’s own membership chair, Nicole Paul.
Paul fired off a series of Tweets on Oct. 15 after MLA incumbent Laurie Throness resigned from the party over comments he made comparing the BC NDP’s free birth control plan to eugenics.
“I continue to stand by the values of free enterprise that originally drew me to this party. The BC Liberal Party under Andrew Wilkinson does not reflect values I support,” she wrote.
“I am pleased to see Laurie Throness will no longer be a candidate or caucus member. This is action that any reasonable leader would have acted on months, if not years ago.”
Throness has drawn criticism in the past for his anti-LGBTQ2 views. He ran as an independent on Saturday in Chilliwack-Kent and his race has yet to finalized.
About 600,000 votes must still be counted in the election, but the BC Liberals are expected to finish with between 27 and 32 seats. It would be the worst result for the party since the 1991 election.
In his speech on election night, Wilkinson did not concede the race and did not offer any hints as to his future as leader.
“The NDP are clearly ahead and it appears they will have the opportunity to form government,” Wilkinson had said.
“But with almost half a million mail-in ballots still to be counted, we don’t know what the final seat count will be, and we owe it to every voter — every voter, no matter how they expressed their intention — to await the final results.”
Liberal candidate Alexa Loo, who remains locked in a too-close-to-call race for Richmond South Centre with the NDP’s Henry Yao, used a sports analogy to describe the situation on Saturday night.
“You go to games, you lose the race — you’re getting a new team leader,” Loo had said.
“So now, who will the new team leader be? Will it be someone who is new and dynamic and can push the team across the finish line all the way?”