Vancouver business owner Gavin Dew listens to Kelowna-Mission MLA Renee Merrifield at a B.C. Liberal leadership debate, November 2021. (B.C. Liberal Party video)

Vancouver business owner Gavin Dew listens to Kelowna-Mission MLA Renee Merrifield at a B.C. Liberal leadership debate, November 2021. (B.C. Liberal Party video)

Disappointing finish in Liberal leadership race for Kelowna-Mission MLA

Renee Merrifield ended up in sixth spot in a field of seven candidates

It was not the result Kelowna-Mission MLA Renee Merrifield had hoped for in her bid to lead the BC Liberal Party.

Former cabinet minister Kevin Falcon won the leadership.

Falcon won on the fifth ballot, taking just over 52 per cent of the points available.

However, it has not deterred Merrifield in the belief that the party has work to do in convincing British Columbians the Liberals can lead the province into the future.

“Obviously we wanted to win,” said Merrifield. “But, I am proud of our campaign, proud of the team.”

Merrifield, along with Val Litwin, Gavin Dew and Stan Sipos was dropped from the field after four ballots. She ended up in the sixth spot, ahead of Sipos who finished seventh.

“I would have loved to have done to better,” she said. “I am disappointed, but we gave it a great shot, drew attention to the issues and kept them (other candidates) on their toes.”

One of the highlights for Merrifield during her campaign was hearing the concerns of British Columbians.

“Whether it was Zoom calls or some of the meet and greets we were able to do, I was honoured and blessed to hear those stories,” she said.

The leadership race saw a fair share of controversy, including on Saturday morning (Feb. 5), when just hours before voting was to close and the ballots were to be counted, a judge had rejected a bid by a party member to delay the release of the results for 15 days over concerns about the Liberals’ recent audit of new members it signed up during the leadership campaign.

Regardless, of what happened, Merrifield said the BC Liberals have a new leader.

“It’s all about democracy and democracy has spoken,” she said. “I will be please to go back to the Legislature with Keven Falcon as our new leader. We have work to do and I brought that work forward during my campaign. Now, it’s about moving forward in a unified fashion.”

While the next provincial election is more than two years away (Oct. 19, 2024), Merrifield is confident that unity will be front and center.

“This is a party-ready to fight for the people of B.C.,” she said. “Ready to amplify the issues that matter. Housing, health care, and child care. Again, there is so much work to do and I am invigorated to move forward together.”

Merrifield was elected MLA for Kelowna-Mission in 2020 and served as the official opposition critic for health ministry before making a bid for party leader.

Read More: Kevin Falcon wins B.C. Liberal leadership race

Read More: Judge rejects bid to delay the release of B.C. Liberal leadership results

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