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BC Liberal leadership candidate Andrew Wilkinson makes stop in Heritage City

Vancouver-Quilchena MLA Andrew Wilkinson (second from right) was in Nelson Monday to lobby support for his BC Leadership bid. — The Nelson Daily photo

Andrew Wilkinson believes he’s the right person to take on John Horgan of the NDP as the next leader of the BC Liberal Party.

The MLA for Vancouver-Quilchena was in Nelson Monday as part of a whistle-stop tour of the Kootenays to drum up support in the Liberal leadership race to replace former Premier Christy Clark.

Approximately 20 Liberal supporters sat in the Benwell Room at the Hume Hotel listening to Wilkinson answer questions from mining to the sitting NDP government to the importance each riding will play in the process of electing the next party leader.

“This is a great opportunity for the rural ridings to have the same say as some of the larger ones in the province,” Wilkinson told the gathering.

Voting for the next leader of the BC Liberals is scheduled for February 1-3 via online, with a telephone option — starting at 9 a.m. on Thursday, February 1st, 2018, and ending at 5 p.m. on Saturday, February 3rd, 2018.

Voters with valid BC Liberal Party membership will choose the new leader through a one-member, one-vote preferential ballot in which they rank as many or as few candidates as they support.

Each electoral district, including Nelson-Creston, is accorded 100 points.

The deadline to join the party or renew one’s membership in order to vote, as well the deadline for prospective candidates to enter the race, is Friday, December 29th

“A lot of the people running are my friends, but they are in a pack and (Andrew Wilkinson) is well ahead of the pack in terms of his confidence, broad experience and understanding about policy issues and the province of BC,” retired Kootenay East MLA Bill Bennett, who is Wilkinson’s campaign co-chair, told Monday’s gathering.

Wilkinson is a physician turned lawyer who has served as MLA for Vancouver-Quilchena since 2013.

He served as both minister of advanced education and minister of technology, innovation and citizens' services in the Christy Clark government and holds degrees from the University of Alberta, Dalhousie University and Oxford University, where he attended as a Rhodes Scholar.

Former BC Finance Minister Mike de Jong, Vancouver-Langara MLA Michael Lee, former Transportation Minister Todd Stone, Vancouver-False Creek MLA Sam Sullivan and former Surrey Mayor Dianne Watts have also entered the leadership race.

Five more leadership debates are planned for Prince George, Nanaimo, Thompson-Okanagan, Vancouver as well as an event hosted by the BC Liberal Indigenous Network.

Wilkinson said he’s been very pleased with the support received during Kootenay tour, which had stops in both Cranbrook and Creston.

“It has been going very well . . . every town I’ve been to has shown a lot of support.”