Kelowna Mission MLA Renee Merrifield is stepping down from her role as the province’s health critic as she continues her pursuit of the BC Liberal Party leadership.
In a media release distributed Thursday, the BC Liberals indicated all three internal leadership candidates have agreed to step aside from their critic portfolio roles to focus on the race. The party will select its next leader in February.
“With less than five months until BC Liberals elect a new leader, it’s vital that those running for leadership have the time to connect with British Columbians and focus on presenting their vision to rebuild and renew our party,” said Interim Leader of the Official Opposition Shirley Bond.
Merrifield has not been immune to controversy during her short time in the position of health critic.
Among other things, some of her “likes” on Twitter caught the attention of political columnist and former NDP political strategist Bill Tieleman, who questioned in 2020 why Merrifield had been clicking ‘like’ on tweets claiming children are being “used” to develop “herd” immunity, and that “we want them to become infected” with COVID-19. She later apologized and stressed that her Tweets were taken out of context.
Bond will now assume responsibility as official Opposition critic for health, in addition to her ongoing portfolio as critic for seniors services and long-term care.
In addition to his current duties as BC Liberal House leader, MLA Peter Milobar will take back his previous responsibilities as official Opposition critic for environment and climate change strategy.
MLA Jordan Sturdy, whose current critic role includes BC Ferries, will resume his previous responsibilities as official Opposition critic for transportation.
Other candidates seeking the Liberal leadership include Kevin Falcon, Val Litwin and Gavin Dew.