By Fran Yanor / Legislative Reporter

The search for the next leader of the BC Liberal party has officially begun.

A leadership conference to pick the party’s next leader will be held Feb. 3 to 5, 2022, with the leader chosen on Feb. 5, the BC Liberal Party announced today.

“Today is really an opportunity for us to begin that focus on the search for a new leader that will revitalize our party and connect with British Columbians,” said Interim Liberal Leader Shirley Bond on Feb. 26.

The previous party leader, Vancouver-Quilchena MLA Andrew Wilkinson, stepped down in November after the BC Liberals lost about a third of their seats and the New Democrats picked up a majority government. The BC Greens won two ridings.

“We’re in interesting times,” said Interim BC Liberal Party President Don Silversides in January. “Everybody is rallying and prepared to embark on a rebuilding and renewal process and I think it’s going be successful.” / Photo courtesy Silversides, Merrick & McLean

Prince George-Valemount MLA Shirley Bond replaced Wilkinson when she was elected interim Liberal leader by her caucus colleagues on Nov. 23.

“We are excited to begin the race for the (permanent) leadership of our party, a process that will help to shape the future of BC politics” said Interim Liberal Party President Don Silversides in a press release.

Given the pandemic context, the party decided an 11-month long timeframe would allow the broadest range of candidates as much opportunity as possible to interact with voters, Silversides said.

“It gives the party a chance to talk about the things that matter to British Columbia,” said Bond. “We’re going to have the opportunity to hear from what I hope will be a broad, diverse, range of candidates as we look to renew the party.”

Political hopefuls will have until Nov. 31 to register as candidates.

All BC Liberal Party members will be eligible to vote in the leadership election, and anyone who isn’t a member who wants to participate has until Dec. 29 to join the party.

Bond will stay on as interim leader until a new leader is selected next February.

Fran Yanor / Local Journalism Initiative / [email protected]