Wilkinson resigns as Liberal leader

B.C. Liberal leader Andrew Wilkinson has resigned as leader of the party.

In a brief news conference on Monday afternoon, Wilkinson announced his resignation and said he would stay on as interim leader until a new party leader can be elected.

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"Leading the B.C. Liberals has been a great honour," Wilkinson said. "Today we begin the challenging work of rebuilding the Liberal party."

Wilkinson said while roughly 500,000 mail-in ballots remain to be counted by Elections BC, it is clear the NDP will form a majority government.

"I want to again thank British Columbians for engaging in the democratic process," he said.

Wilkinson didn't take questions from the media.

Prince George MLA Shirley Bond said Wilkinson made a tough choice for the good of the party.

"I respect him for making that very difficult decision," Bond said.

The outcome of the election wasn't what the party hoped for, she said, but it presents an opportunity for the party to re-engage with voters and rebuild the public trust.

"I think that work can be quite invigorating," she said.

Bond said she has no desire to take on the top job in the party.

"I am very honoured and content to be the MLA for Prince George-Valemount," she said.

Bond said she hopes to take on a critic role relevant to the region, and plans to continue holding the NDP accountable and advocate for the region.

Prince George-Mackenzie MLA Mike Morris said he wasn't surprised by Wilkinson's reaction.

"It's a typical reaction, I guess, when a political party loses to the extent we did," Morris said. "Andrew did the honourable thing."

The leadership race will be the party's first step to reconnect with voters in B.C., especially those in the Lower Mainland who stayed home or voted for a different party, he said.

Morris said he has no intention of putting his name forward for the leadership job.

"It's a tough job. It keeps people from their families totally," Morris said. "Especially being from this region, you'd spend all your time in the Lower Mainland and the island. It's not something I aspire to."

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