Rebuilding party a top priorty for Bond as interim Liberal leader

B.C. Liberal Party interim leader Shirley Bond said keeping the NDP government accountable, while finding ways to reconnect with voters will be her top priorities in the position.

Bond was named the party's new interim leader on Monday, after outgoing leader Andrew Wilkinson stepped down from the position. In a virtual press conference on Tuesday, her first as interim leader, Bond said 

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"I'm very appreciative of the trust my colleagues have placed in me," Bond said. "I have made it clear I have no interest in seeking the long-term leadership of the party. I see my role is to ensure we have an effective, professional cabinet that can do its job."

Bond said she is confident that a number of excellent leadership candidates will come forward. 

No definitive timeline has been developed yet for the party's leadership race, as the party has work to do to analyze what happened and engage with voters, before moving forward and selecting a new leader, she said. When the leadership race does begin, she said she will remain neutral and not endorse any specific candidate.

While the party needs to look at what went wrong in the 2020 provincial election, Bond said the party also needs to look ahead at how to better serve British Columbians.

"First of all, I'm realistic about what happened. It wasn't what we wanted. (But) from every difficult circumstance comes an opportunity to be better, to listen," Bond said. "We need to look at being more diverse – how do we do that? There is no doubt we need to do some specific work to engage with urban voters."

In the meantime, Bond said she and her caucus members will be rolling up their sleeves and doing the job British Columbians elected them to do.

"We have a job, as the opposition, to ask tough and sometimes uncomfortable questions," Bond said. "I hope we can do that in a respectful, and probing way."

Over the coming year the provincial government will continue to respond to the COVID-19 pandemic, and Premier John Horgan has already announced plans for significant spending initiatives. Asking the hard questions, and challenging the government to ensure its COVID relief efforts are timely, effective and communicated clearly will be a priority, moving forward, she said.

"I think those are reasonable questions that British Columbians expect us to ask," Bond said. "The role of the opposition, our responsibility and the job we have to do, hasn't changed, We're going to take every opportunity to debate legislation, and to allow private members bills to come forward..."

Bond has served as the MLA for Prince George-Valemount (previously known as Prince George-Mount Robson) since 2001.

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