Shirley Bond is the BC Liberal interim party leader

SHIRLEY Bond, former deputy premier, was on Monday elected the B.C. Liberal party’s interim leader until a leadership competition can be held. Andrew Wilkinson had announced on Saturday that he was stepping down as the leader.

“I appreciate the confidence and trust my colleagues have placed in me as we work together to hold John Horgan and the NDP government to account in the coming months,” said Bond. “I want to thank Andrew Wilkinson for his service as leader over the past several years and I look forward to continuing to work with him and our entire team of new and returning MLAs to present a positive vision for this province.”

The BC Liberal Caucus also appointed Stephanie Cadieux as their new Caucus Chair.

“As the Interim Leader of the Official Opposition, it’s now my duty to ensure that the voices of British Columbians from all across the province are heard by [Premier] John Horgan and his NDP government. We will hold them to account for the decisions that impact us all,” added Bond. “In the coming days, I’ll be meeting with caucus members, appointing a leadership team, and assigning MLA critic portfolios. We have an excellent team of MLAs ready to get to work on behalf of their constituents and all British Columbians. We look forward to having the opportunity to return to the Legislature as soon as that is possible.”

The BC Liberal MLAs will be officially sworn in on November 27, and the BC Legislature is currently scheduled to return for a brief legislative session starting on December 7.

Horgan congratulated Bond, adding: “As an MLA since 2001, she has an incredible amount of experience. Looking forward to working with her in her role as leader of the opposition to support British Columbians through the pandemic and beyond.”

Bond responded in a tweet: “Thank you @jjhorgan, I appreciate it. We both know that public service isn’t for the faint of heart, but the opportunity to work with an amazing caucus in this capacity is truly an honour. I look forward to seeing you in Question Period!”

Bond was first elected in 2001 as the MLA for Prince George-Valemount. She served as Minister of Jobs, Tourism and Skills Training and Minister Responsible for Labour, Minister of Transportation and Infrastructure, Minister of Education, Minister Responsible for Early Learning and Literacy, Minister of Advanced Education, and Minister of Health Services.

She was the first female to hold the position of Attorney General in British Columbia’s history, a title she held while Minister of Justice.

As a member of the Official Opposition, Shirley chaired the Select Standing Committee on Public Accounts and served as Finance critic.