B.C. Liberal leader Andrew Wilkinson thanks supporters in Vancouver, joined by MLAs and his wife Barbara Grantham (right). (Tom Fletcher/Black Press)

B.C. Liberal leader Andrew Wilkinson thanks supporters in Vancouver, joined by MLAs and his wife Barbara Grantham (right). (Tom Fletcher/Black Press)

Andrew Wilkinson won big in rural B.C. to clinch B.C. Liberal leadership

Strong showing by Michael Lee helped defeat Dianne Watts

Painted by the NDP opposition as an upper-crust lawyer from Vancouver’s wealthy West Side, Andrew Wilkinson built his strongest B.C. Liberal leadership support in pickup-truck land, in the Kootenays, Cariboo, rural Vancouver Island and Northern B.C.

A constituency breakdown of voting by B.C. Liberal Party members shows Wilkinson piled up points across the province, including remote regions where he worked as a doctor early in his career. He made the most of the party’s weighted voting system, which gave each of the province’s 87 constituencies 100 points to balance out the urban population concentration in the south.

Wilkinson’s agreement with Abbotsford West MLA Mike de Jong also helped him over the top. Both urged their supporters to make the other their second choice, and Wilkinson benefited when de Jong was dropped from the ballot after round two.

One of the surprises of the leadership vote was the strength of rookie Vancouver-Langara MLA Michael Lee, who surpassed Wilkinson in his own seat of Vancouver-Quilchena in first-choice votes on a ranked ballot of six leadership contenders.

Lee also led former Surrey mayor Dianne Watts in Surrey-Fleetwood, Surrey-Green Timbers, Surrey-Guildford, Surrey-Newton and Surrey-Panorama. Watts, who represented South Surrey-White Rock as a Conservative MP before resigning her seat to run for the provincial leadership, won Surrey South, Surrey-White Rock and Surrey Cloverdale.

RELATED: Wilkinson’s winning margin, with video

During the leadership campaign, Wilkinson made much of his Kamloops roots as an immigrant from Australia, where he lived as a child. But MLA Todd Stone owned his Kamloops-South Thompson seat, winning more than 90 per cent of the vote, and more than 80 per cent in Kamloops-North Thompson.

In his acceptance speech, the 60-year-old Wilkinson acknowledged the work of Lee and Stone to attract a new generation.

“Our job is to get out there and make ourselves more attractive to youth, with a broader environmental message that points out that British Columbia has benefited from the B.C. Liberal track record on the Great Bear Rainforest,” Wilkinson said. “We did the climate action plan, we’re going to have an attractive program of wildlife management to show British Columbians is a strong environmental jurisdiction.”

BC legislatureBC Liberals

Get local stories you won't find anywhere else right to your inbox.
Sign up here

Just Posted

Vernon Fire Rescue Services responded to reports of a structure fire on Valleyview Place Jan. 26, 2021. (Brendan Shykora - Vernon Morning Star)
Fire snuffed in Vernon home

No visible smoke, flames from area of reported structure fire

A sign indicating a COVID-19 testing site is displayed inside a parking garage in West Nyack, N.Y., Monday, Nov. 30, 2020. The site was only open to students and staff of Rockland County schools in an effort to test enough people to keep the schools open for in-person learning. (AP Photo/Seth Wenig)
4 more deaths, 54 new cases of COVID-19 in Interior Health

This brings the total to 66 deaths in the region

Design rendering for the proposed Coldstream Community Centre. An advisory committee will make a decision on the latest site plan Tuesday, Jan. 26, 2021. (Sahuri & Associates rendering)
Coldstream committee to review latest designs for new community centre

Design renderings have been released for the centre that would add 84 local child care spaces

11 more cases of COVID-19 have been linked to a cluster on Big White Mountain. Pictured above is TELUS park at Big White Ski Resort, Jan. 26. (Big White Ski Resort)
11 more cases of COVID-19 linked to Big White cluster

This brings the total case count to 225, according to health authorities in a Tuesday update

One of the two bees sculptures stolen from Vernon’s Planet Bee Honey Farm and Honeymoon Meadery Nov. 22, 2020, was retuned Jan. 26, 2021, thanks to a tip from the public. (Facebook)
Stolen bee returned to Vernon honey farm

Two months after thieves buzzed off with two bee sculptures, public tips led police one of them

Dr. Penny Ballem, a former deputy health minister, discusses her role in leading B.C.’s COVID-19 vaccination program, at the B.C. legislature, Jan. 22, 2021. (B.C. government)
B.C. holds steady with 407 new COVID-19 cases Tuesday

14 deaths, no new outbreaks in the health care system

A Cessna 170 airplane similar to the one pictured above is reported to be missing off the waters between Victoria and Washington State. Twitter photo/USCG
Canadian, American rescue crews searching for missing aircraft in waters near Victoria

The search is centered around the waters northeast of Port Angeles

Interior Health reported two more COVID-19 deaths at Sunnybank Retirement Center in Oliver Tuesday, Jan. 26, 2021. (File photo)
COVID-19 claims lives of two more South Okanagan care home residents

Five residents of the Oliver care home have died since the outbreak was first declared

Cannabis bought in British Columbia (Ashley Wadhwani/Black Press Media)
Is it time to start thinking about greener ways to package cannabis?

Packaging suppliers are still figuring eco-friendly and affordable packaging options that fit the mandates of Cannabis Regulations

Jonathon Muzychka and Dean Reber are wanted on Canada-wide warrants. (Courtesy of Victoria Police Department)
Convicted killer, robber at large after failing to return to facility: Victoria police

Dean Reber, 60, and Jonathon Muzychka, 43, may be together

Oliver Elementary School
Former Oliver PAC treasurer charged with fraud returns to court

Belinda Yorke will be in court to fix a date for trial in February

Join Black Press Media and Do Some Good
Join Black Press Media and Do Some Good

Pay it Forward program supports local businesses in their community giving

B.C. Premier John Horgan listens during a postelection news conference in Vancouver on Sunday, Oct. 25, 2020. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Darryl Dyck
30% of B.C. recovery benefit applications held up in manual review

The province says 150 staff have been reassigned to help with manually reviewing applications

Adam Dergazarian, bottom center, pays his respect for Kobe Bryant and his daughter, Gianna, in front of a mural painted by artist Louie Sloe Palsino, Tuesday, Jan. 26, 2021, in Los Angeles. (AP Photo/Jae C. Hong)
Kobe Bryant’s presence remains strong a year after his death

Tuesday marks the grim anniversary of the crash that took their lives

Most Read