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

FILE - In this April 19, 2021, file photo, Keidy Ventura, 17, receives her first dose of the Pfizer COVID-19 vaccine in West New York, N.J. States across the country are dramatically scaling back their COVID-19 vaccine orders as interest in the shots wanes, putting the goal of herd immunity further out of reach. (AP Photo/Seth Wenig, File)
5 more deaths, 131 new cases of COVID-19 in Interior Health over the weekend

Those 18-years and older in high-transmission neighbourhoods can register for the vaccine

Rotary Club of Salmon Arm president Norm Brown talks about the work the city’s Rotary Clubs do for the community during a Rotary 75th Anniversary event at the Blackburn Park picnic shelter on Saturday, May 8, 2021. (Lachlan Labere-Salmon Arm Observer)
Salmon Arm Rotarians mark 75th anniversary

Flags placed around Blackburn Park picnic shelter for video shoot

RCMP (Phil McLachlan - Black Press Media)
High-risk takedown on Highway 1 following Anglemont shooting

Upon further investigation, the vehicle and its occupants were not associated with the shooting

Police watchdog find Salmon Arm RCMP have no involvement in head-on collision. (File photo)
Police watchdog finds Salmon Arm RCMP not involved in Highway 1 crash

Woman seriously injured on April 22 after head-on collision

A bullet hole is seen in the windshield of an RCMP vehicle approximately 4 km from Vancouver International Airport after a one person was killed during a shooting outside the international departures terminal at the airport, in Richmond, B.C., Sunday, May 9, 2021. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Darryl Dyck
Homicide team IDs man in fatal YVR shooting as police grapple with spate of gang violence

Man, 20, charged in separate fatal shooting Burnaby over the weekend

RCMP are searching for Philip Toner, who is a ‘person of interest’ in the investigation of a suspicious death in Kootenay National Park last week. Photo courtesy BC RCMP.
RCMP identify ‘person of interest’ in Kootenay National Park suspicious death

Police are looking for Philip Toner, who was known to a woman found dead near Radium last week

Vancouver Canucks goaltender Thatcher Demko (35) makes a save on Winnipeg Jets’ Nate Thompson (11) during second period NHL action in Winnipeg, Monday, May 10, 2021. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Fred Greenslade
Vancouver Canucks see NHL playoff hopes dashed despite 3-1 win over Winnipeg

Montreal Canadiens earn final North Division post-season spot

The southern mountain caribou, an iconic species for the Splatsin First Nation, is threatened with extinction, much to the dismay of the First Nation. (Province of B.C. photo)
Okanagan First Nation band concerned over dwindling caribou herd

Southern mountain caribou at risk of extinction, much to dismay of Splatsin First Nation near Enderby

RCMP. (Phil McLachlan/Capital News)
UPDATE: Winfield road open following police, coroner investigation

Pelmewash Parkway closure near Highway 97 connection

Kelowna resident Sally Wallick helped rescue a kayaker in distress a week and a half ago. (Sally Wallick/Contributed)
VIDEO: Kelowna woman rescues capsized kayaker in Okanagan Lake

Sally Wallick is asking people to be prepared for the cold water and unpredictable winds

The B.C. legislature went from 85 seats to 87 before the 2017 election, causing a reorganization with curved rows and new desks squeezed in at the back. The next electoral boundary review could see another six seats added. (Black Press files)
B.C. election law could add six seats, remove rural protection

North, Kootenays could lose seats as cities gain more

The Independent Investigations Office of B.C. is investigating the shooting of an Indigenous woman in the Ucluelet First Nation community of Hitacu. (Black Press Media file photo)
B.C. First Nation wants ‘massive change’ after its 3rd police shooting in less than a year

Nuu-chah-nulth woman recovering from gunshot wounds in weekend incident near Ucluelet

Nurse Gurinder Rai, left, administers the Moderna COVID-19 vaccine to Maria Yule at a Fraser Health drive-thru vaccination site, in Coquitlam, B.C., on Wednesday, May 5, 2021. The site is open for vaccinations 11 hours per day to those who have pre-booked an appointment. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Darryl Dyck
COVID vaccine bookings to open for adults 40+, or 18+ in hotspots, across B.C.

Only people who have registered will get their alert to book

Most Read