Incumbent MLA Tom Shypitka is contesting Kootenay East for the BC Liberals. (Scott Tibballs / The Free Press)

Wilkinson would have been a great premier: Shypitka

Re-elected Kootenay East MLA responds to resignation of party leader

Newly re-elected MLA for Kootenay East Tom Shypitka has responded to the news BC Liberal leader Andrew Wilkinson has stepped down from leading the provincial party.

“I really believed in his laser focus,” said Shypitka. “He would have been probably one of the best premiers (BC) ever saw.”

Shypitka worked as opposition critic for energy, mines and petroleum resources in the previous provincial parliament under Andrew Wilkinson’s leadership, and said that his resignation was just “part of this process” in the aftermath of the election.

“I support Andrew, in fact I think I was the very first MLA to support him. He had some vulnerabilities. He’s a smart guy – he’s a doctor, a lawyer, a Rhodes scholar, but every indication on polls, he didn’t resonate with the public for whatever reason that was.”

Wilkinson had been leader of the BC Liberals since early 2018, when he replaced former premier Christy Clark.

The BC Liberals have been reduced to 29 seats in the next legislature if the current initial vote count stands, in what could possibly be one of the worst showings for BCs centre-right party since the 1991 election.

Shypitka was one of the few BC Liberal MLAs to see their vote share go up, with the initial count putting his share just shy of 60 per cent – up from the 2017 result for Shypitka when he achieved 56.5 per cent.

On the future leadership of the BC Liberals, Shypitka said it was too early for speculation given the election was yet to be fully wrapped up, but said that he was open to “entertaining” a leadership role.

“I’m there for the party, to be used in any way, to make us better. If that involves a leadership bid, then I’m all ears, as long as the support is there and it makes sense.”

READ MORE: Horgan’s B.C. majority came with historically low voter turnout
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