Kevin Falcon has soared to victory in the B.C. Liberal leadership race.
The former minister in both the Gordon Campbell and Christy Clark governments has won the contest on the fifth ballot.
Falcon won 47 per cent of the vote on the first ballot and passed the required 50 per cent threshold after Stan Sipos, Renee Merrifield, Gavin Dew and Val Litwin dropped off the ballot.
MLA Ellis Ross finished a distant second and MLA Michael Lee finished third.
The party uses a point-based results system equally weighing all 87 ridings in the province.
The leadership had received little attention up until the past few days.
Justice Heather MacNaughton ruled earlier Saturday against a petition brought by Liberal member Vikram Bajwa asking the B.C. Supreme Court for an order delaying the release of the race’s results.
The petition was brought forward over concerns about the party’s recent audit of new members it signed up during the leadership campaign.
Litwin, who finished fourth in the race, stated earlier this week he would quit the party if Falcon won.
Merrifield, who finished sixth in a field of seven, also expressed her displeasure with Falcon falling just short of accusing the new leader of cheating during the leadership race.
Falcon must put all of this behind him.
The first order of business for the new leader will be winning a seat in the B.C. Legislature. It is expected former leader Andrew Wilkinson will resign as the MLA for Vancouver-Quilchena.
The B.C. government will have up to six months to call a by-election and Falcon is expected to run.
Wilkinson led the B.C. Liberals to just 28 seats in the 2020 provincial election and just shy of 34 per cent of the popular vote.
The party won 43 seats in the 2017 provincial election, with 40 per cent of the popular vote. Christy Clark lost a confidence vote following the election leading to John Horgan becoming B.C. premier.
The B.C. Liberals have seen a significant drop off in support in Metro Vancouver, including losing seats in the Tri Cities, Surrey, Richmond, Langley, the North Shore, Abbotsford and Chilliwack in the last provincial election.
The party also needs to address concerns over diversity and inclusion. Former MLA Laurie Throness was tossed from the party after comments comparing free contraception to eugenics.
–with files from The Canadian Press