B.C. Liberal leadership candidate Andrew Wilkinson talks to supporter Jane Barrett in Kelowna Wednesday.—Alistair Waters/Capital News

Wilkinson accuses NDP of ‘stealth’ plan to protect it and the B.C. Greens

Liberal leadership hopeful says electoral reform, financing and new election date part of plan

The fourth Liberal leadership contender in the space of 48 hours showed up in Kelowna Wednesday to press the flesh and talk to locals.

Andrew Wilkinson, Liberal MLA for Vancouver-Quilchena and the province’s former advanced education minister, attorney general and technology, innovation and citizen’s services minister made a return visit to the city, his third since announcing his bid for the party leadership.

Wilkinson met with a small group of locals at the Rotary Centre for the Arts for a round-table discussion about local issues. The group included the area’s two Liberal MLAs, Steve Thomson and Norm Letnick and former Kelowna mayor Walter Gray.

Prior to that, he told reporters he feels Kelowna is the “political heart” of both the province and for B.C Liberal Party.

“So, as this B.C. Liberal leadership race unfolds, Kelowna is where the action is and all of the candidates will be coming through here quite regularly,” he predicted.

One of the upcoming Liberal leadership debates is planned for Kelowna on Dec. 2.

Wilkinson said he was in back in the city to hear what was on the minds of locals.

Several of the candidates in the race to succeed former leader Christy Clark, who quit as party leader and MLA for Kelowna West in August rather than sit as Opposition leader, have said they believe for the party reconnect with British Columbians, they will need to travel the province talking to people where they live, about issues important to them.

Related: Relative newcomer Lee says Liberals need balance

Wilkinson said that was brought home in the election, where he felt his party focused on the big picture, while the NDP narrowed its focus, particularly in the Lower Mainland, where it took 10 of the 11 seats the Liberals lost.

Wilkinson said as someone who has lived and worked all over the province—he was raised in Kamloops—he feels he has a good understanding of the different ways of life in the province and the different “pressures” people face in different regions of B.C..

“Still, it’s important for me to get out and listen to what people have to say.”

Related: B.C. Liberal leadership front-runner says new vision is needed by party

He said his party learned a lot of lessons from the May election—an election the Liberals won by a one-seat over the NDP, with the B.C. Greens holding the balance of power with three seats. The Liberals formed a minority government but could not hold onto power when the NDP and BC Greens joined forces to pass a non-confidence vote in the government in the Legislature in June.

As a result, NDP leader John Horgan was invited to form a government by Lt.-Gov. Judith Guichon.

In Kelowna on Wednesday, Wilkinson touted his experience as a minister, as well as a deputy minister, saying it’s important to know how to get things done in Victoria or else “you start spinning your wheels.”

“This is a job (both as a party as leader and as premier) with no training wheels. You have to be ready to go day one.”

Related: DeJong touts track record in Liberal leadership bid

He said his campaign will focus on opportunity, and because there are no guarantees the way of life British Columbians now enjoy will continue, it will be up to the government to ensure all people have the training they need to get ahead and that job opportunities are there.

“We need strong employers in our free-enterprise system so people can have the kind of opportunities we’ve all enjoyed,” he said.

Wilkinson called the NDP’s plans for electoral reform, changes to political fundraising and moving the election date to the fall from the spring “a bit of a stealth program,” and predicted it will be a “rude surprise” for many British Columbians because it is being done, in his estimation, to protect the NDP and Green Party at the expense of taxpayers.

To report a typo, email: edit@kelownacapnews.com.



awaters@kelownacapnews.com

Like us on Facebook and follow us on Twitter.

Just Posted

Kelowna’s Serwa named to Olympic team

Kelsey Serwa is one of eight Canadian ski cross athletes headed to PyeongChang

Vernon Search & Rescue find lost snowmobiler

Male, 19, went missing in Hunter’s Range area near Enderby

Kelowna attraction set to re-open after 2017 floods

Scandia’s popular Jungle Golf, downstairs, has been closed since being damaged in Kelowna floods

New development in missing plane near Revelstoke

The family of Ashley Bourgeault believe they have found a new clue

Kelowna thieves steal Crime Stoppers donations

This week’s unsolved crimes for Central Okanagan Crime Stoppers hits close to home

Video: Skiers speed through 34th annual Reino Keski-Salmi Loppet

Yearly cross-country race provides skiers a chance to test their endurance

Bell Media, NFL take appeal over Super Bowl ad rules to top court

At issue is a ban on substituting American ads with Canadian ones during the game’s broadcast

Crown seeks 4.5 years jail for B.C. woman convicted of counselling tax evasion

Debbie Anderson the latest from group to face jail for teaching debunked ‘natural person’ theory

Brother of B.C. teen killed by stray bullet says the death left a void

Alfred Wong, 15, was gunned down in Vancouver while on his way home from dinner with his family

Movie filmed in Castlegar B.C. opens Friday

Hollow in the Land starring Dianna Agron will be playing in select cinemas.

Cougar window shops at Banff grocery store

An RCMP officer spots a cougar outside an Alberta grocery store

Police fear fewer fentanyl imports don’t signal the end of the overdose crisis

RCMP say it’s just as likely that criminal are getting more clever

Lawyers slam ‘de facto expulsion’ of student guilty of sexual interference

Calgary student guilty of sexual assault of a minor allowed to finish semester

Most Read