Bond heaps praise on B.C. Liberals' outgoing leader

Prince George-Valemount MLA Shirley Bond praised outgoing B.C. Liberal leader Christy Clark for all she has done while premier of the province and avoided raising any shortcomings her boss may have had while at the helm when reached Friday.

"She did it with class, a lot of courage," Bond said of Clark's decision to step down. "Her first thoughts were for this province and what was best for all of us, so I am deeply grateful for the friendship I have had with Christy and I know that will continue. A tough emotional day for us, but one that very much demonstrated the integrity that Christy has."

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Asked if Clark's decision came with a push from caucus or was strictly voluntary, Bond said Clark made a personal decision and added that over her years as MLA she's seen the toll being premier takes on peoples' lives.

"She, I think during this period of time as leader of the opposition, realized there are things she wants to do in her life and spend more time with her son and her family," Bond said. "I think that was a contributing factor."

Asked if Clark made the right move for the party and the province, Bond limited her answer to saying she respected the decision although it left the caucus disappointed.

"As difficult as it is, a person who is a politician, someone who serves the public, knows when it is best for them," Bond said.

As for the days ahead, veteran MLA Rich Coleman will be the interim leader and the party executive will work out the process for finding a permanent one over the next 28 days.

Bond said she has "no intention" of running for the leadership although she's received phone calls and emails asking her that very question.

"But today, I want to reflect on the important work that Christy Clark did, the honour it was to serve with her and then work as part of a team to set up the next phase of where we go as a party and as a caucus and that does not include considering the leadership," Bond said.

In terms of qualities she will be seeking in the new leader, Bond said she will be looking for someone who recognizes British Columbia is a big province, will uphold the values supporting free enterprise and can reach out to multiple generations.

"All those things will matter to me and I can assure you, whoever emerges as the leader of our party, from my perspective, will certainly have to recognized the value of responsible resource development, the importance that northern British Columbia has in the economy of this province," Bond said.

Bond said she's not sure who will be running at this point but "is positive we'll have a number of great candidates," and the race will help revitalize the party.

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