The BC Liberals are looking for a new leader. Here are some possibilities

Liberal Leader Andrew Wilkinson, centre, and local candidate Jane Thornthwaite, right, listen to Larry's Market owner Ryan Dennis during a campaign stop at the grocery store, in North Vancouver, on Sunday, October 4, 2020. A provincial election will be held in British Columbia on October 24. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Darryl Dyck

The BC Liberal party is searching for a new leader for the second time in three years.

Andrew Wilkinson stepped down as party leader on Monday after guiding the Liberal to their worst performance since 1991.

It is unclear when the next BC Liberal leadership race will be.

Here are some names of possible candidates who are either considering a race or are being discussed internally.

The Already-Rans

Dianne Watts

The former mayor of Surrey and Conservative MP was considered the favourite to win the last leadership contest but lost to Wilkinson on the fifth ballot.

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The 60-year-old is also being sought to run again as the mayor of Surrey. A poll done for the National Police Federation by Pollara Strategic Insights found 55 per cent of those surveyed would vote for Watts as mayor, compared to 27 per cent for current Mayor Doug McCallum. Watts served as Surrey mayor from 2005 to 2014.

Click to play video: 'Dianne Watts officially announces her candidacy for the BC Liberal Party'
Dianne Watts officially announces her candidacy for the BC Liberal Party

Mike de Jong

De Jong finished fifth in the 2018 leadership race, after being eliminated on the second ballot. After he was eliminated, many of his supporters backed Wilkinson. The 57-year-old will be the longest-serving member of the next legislature, having first been elected in a 1994 byelection.

De Jong, who represents the riding of Abbotsford West, is best known for serving as finance minister under Christy Clark. In the last leadership race, he was supported by then-MLAs Mike Bernier, Stephanie Cadieux, Rich Coleman, Simon Gibson, John Martin, Teresa Wat and Dan Davies.

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The biggest question de Jong will face is how someone so closely linked to 16 years of Liberal rule could possibly be the face of the renewed BC Liberals.

Todd Stone

Stone finished fourth in the 2018 leadership race. The former transportation minister in the Clark government was the only frontrunner from outside of Metro Vancouver. The 48-year-old just won re-election in Kamloops-South Thompson.

In the last leadership race, Stone was supported by then-caucus members Greg Kyllo, Peter Milobar, Coralee Oakes, Ian Paton, Linda Reid, Jane Thornthwaite and Steve Thomson. Stone is considered by many inside the party as part of a new generation of BC Liberal.

But like all former Clark-era cabinet ministers he will have to figure out a way to distance himself from the past to convince voters about renewal.

Click to play video: 'B.C. election 2020: Andrew Wilkinson faces questions about Liberal leadership'
B.C. election 2020: Andrew Wilkinson faces questions about Liberal leadership

Michael Lee

Lee had his major breakthrough during the 2018 leadership race. The MLA for Vancouver-Langara finished third behind Watts and Wilkinson.

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Lee was first elected in 2017 and with ballots still left to be counted seems to be on his way to winning again. The former lawyer’s victory in 2020 will be seen as a sign he can win tough races, considering he appears to have held on to to a seat in Metro Vancouver, a region where the party has lost ground.

The Already Ran (two leaderships ago)

Kevin Falcon

Falcon has been out of politics for a while, leaving soon after he lost the 2011 Liberal leadership to Christy Clark. But he reminds many Liberals of the good times and the financial fundamentals that made the party a powerhouse.

The 57-year-old former finance minister and deputy premier would have substantial financial backing if he takes a run at the leadership but would struggle to sell himself as a renewal candidate.

Click to play video: 'Keith Baldrey on the future of the BC Liberal Party'
Keith Baldrey on the future of the BC Liberal Party

The Fresh Faces

Jas Johal

Johal has been linked to a possible leadership bid ever since he got elected in 2017. The former Global News reporter has been a high-profile Liberal MLA, leading the party’s charge on ICBC and other issues.

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Johal sat out the last leadership contest, not supporting anyone, but could face a hurdle this time because he lost his Richmond-Queensborough seat. If elected leader he would be the first BC Liberal leader of South Asian descent.

Peter Milobar

Milobar has a lot of leadership credentials: former mayor, current MLA, willing to pick political fights. But he is close friends with Todd Stone and there is no room for both Kamloops MLAs to run for the Liberal leadership. This makes it very unlikely Milobar will run.

Ellis Ross

Like Milobar and Johal, Ross has been one of the brights spots for the BC Liberals over the past three years. The former chief councillor for the Haisla Nation is a prominent voice for resource development and the impact development could have on Indigenous communities.

If elected leader, Ross would become the first Indigenous person to lead a major political party in B.C.

Ross is on his way to winning re-election in Skeena, a riding the NDP had hoped to pick up. The challenge for Ross would be addressing Metro Vancouver issues.

Click to play video: 'BC Liberal Leader steps down after election loss'
BC Liberal Leader steps down after election loss

The Outside/Insiders

James Moore

Moore has never run for the BC Liberals and has never been particularly publicly active for the party, and has been out of politics since 2015. That may be why the 44-year-old is the perfect person to lead the party back to where it was.

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The former Harper-era cabinet minister was one of the highest-profile members of the federal Conservative team. He is still young by political standards and has been often complimented for his communication skills. He lives in the Tri-Cities, which will be a crucial battleground for the Liberals.

His family and the fact that he is enjoying life outside of politics may be why Moore doesn’t take up the call from members.


Tamara Taggart

This list is sorely lacking female representation. Beyond Watts there has not been a lot of talk about female candidates. Taggart and the group below could change that.

The former CTV anchor ran for the federal Liberals in the 2019 election. The 52-year-old has grown her political profile with her advocacy work around schools and accessibility. Taggart also speaks from the perspective of an urban mother, a demographic Wilkinson struggled with.

Click to play video: 'BC Liberal Leader Andrew Wilkinson says he’ll step down'
BC Liberal Leader Andrew Wilkinson says he’ll step down

Bridgitte Anderson

Anderson has been around politics throughout her career but has never run for elected office. The former press secretary for Premier Gordon Campbell and former legislative reporter would provide instant credibility with the Vancouver business community.

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The CEO of the Greater Vancouver Board of Trade has strong community connections and would have no trouble fundraising. Anderson was part of the premier’s task force on economic recovery and any run for office would complicate the relationship between the board of trade and the NDP government.

Tamara Vrooman 

Vrooman has appeared on these lists before and her recent appointment as the CEO of the Vancouver International Airport makes this highly unlikely. But the reason Vrooman appears on these lists is she has all the credentials to make a strong BC Liberal leader. Vrooman is a good communicator, strongly connected to the Metro Vancouver business community, and understands the growing challenges faced by people in the province’s largest city.

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