Andrew Wilkinson feels his star is rising on the BC Liberal Party leadership campaign trail.
The Lower Mainland MLA is touring the Okanagan today and Saturday in one last effort to drill up support for his leadership bid.
Wilkinson has the backing of the Liberal MLAs for Kelowna-Lake Country Norm Letnick and Okanagan-Boundary Linda Larson among a contingent of 13 Liberal MLA endorsements.
Wilkinson feels his message is resonating with Liberal Party members because he has lived at various places across the province and understands that different communities each have their own priority concerns.
“It’s a constant learning process. The primary issues for people I meet as I’ve travelled the province on this campaign go from hospitals to ferries to fruit trees to highways. And there is a lot of concern generally about the NDP being the 604 party, their mandate essentially coming from Metro Vancouver and Vancouver Island,” Wilkinson said.
“As a party, we remain committed to basic values of maintaining low taxes and being fiscally responsible.”
With the NDP leading a slim majority government with the support of the Green Party, Wilkinson has seen three concerns arise under Premier John Horgan.
“The NDP have delayed decisions on many major issues because of being timid and lacking experience in government, the delay on Site C which has made an on-time, on-budget project into now being off-schedule and off-budget for the purposes of a political exercise, and supporting a proportional representation initiative with a referendum that requires a 50 plus one majority for adoption that is entirely driven by the desire to politically pay off the Green Party,” he said.
While Wilkinson sees himself as a frontrunner, he faces stiff competition from the likes of long-time Liberal finance minister Mike de Jong, former Surrey mayor and federal Liberal MP Dianne Watts, former highways minister Todd Stone and Lower Mainland MLA Sam Sullivan.
Stone, a Kamloops MLA, has secured the support of regional MLAs Steve Thomson (Kelowna-Mission) and Greg Kyllo (Shuswap).
Vernon-Monashee MLA Eric Foster will remain neutral because of his position as Liberal Party whip in the legislature.
Wilkinson is spending time in Oliver, Penticton and Merritt today, and will do meet-and-greets on Saturday in Vernon at the Ratio Coffee & Pastry (the Old Train Station) at 9 a.m., and in Kelowna at the Tree Brewing Institute at 3 p.m.
The BC Liberal leadership convention will take place the weekend of Feb. 3-4 in Vancouver.