Former premier Christy Clark has announced she is stepping down as leader of the B.C. Liberal Party and as a member of the legislative assembly in Kelowna West.
Clark made her intentions known in a statement released Friday. She said she told her caucus colleagues about her decision to leave as leader effective Aug. 4.
“Serving as premier and serving the people of British Columbia for the past six and a half years has been an incredible honour and privilege. I am so proud of everything our BC Liberal Team has accomplished,” Clark said in a statement Friday.
“I am certain that British Columbia’s best days lie ahead. Because British Columbians can, through hard work, determination, and perseverance, achieve anything they set their minds to.”
The decision comes one month after the B.C. Liberals were defeated in a non-confidence vote in the legislature. Clark stepped down as premier after her government lost the confidence vote. NDP Leader John Horgan was sworn in as B.C.’s premier last week.
READ MORE: NDP Leader John Horgan asked to form government in B.C. after Liberals defeated in confidence vote
Rich Coleman, MLA for Langley East, has been named the interim B.C. Liberal caucus leader and Sharon White, president of the B.C. Liberals, said there will be a meeting of the party executive within 28 days to set a date and plan for a leadership vote.
Premier John Horgan thanked Christy Clark for her service on in a statement and wished her the best.
“We take up the call of public service because we want to make this province a better place. While we represented two different political parties, Ms. Clark and I are united in the belief that, working together, we can build a better future for British Columbia and the people who call this place home,” Horgan said in the statement.
“As an MLA and as Premier, Ms. Clark fought passionately for what she believed in. I know she will take that passion and energy to her next opportunity.”
I want to thank @christyclarkbc for her many years of service on behalf of British Columbians. I wish her and her family the very best. 1/2
— John Horgan (@jjhorgan) July 28, 2017
While we represented 2 different parties, we are united in our belief that our job is to work every day to build a better province. 2/2
— John Horgan (@jjhorgan) July 28, 2017
B.C. Green Party Leader Andrew Weaver thanked Clark for her years of service in a statement and wished her well in the future.
?She has been a fierce advocate for British Columbia, here at home and around the world,? he said in the statement.
?A highlight of my time in the Legislature was working directly with Christy Clark to implement sexualized violence policy legislation for BC?s post-secondary institutions. Her leadership and willingness to work across party lines on this vital issue has made universities and colleges across this province safer for our students – and for this I am grateful. This experience illustrated what we can achieve when members of this house work together. I wish Christy Clark well in her future pursuits and look forward to developing a productive relationship with the next Leader of the BC Liberal Party.?
Clark has held the seat in Kelowna West since July 2013 but was in legislature twice previously. She gained prominence in Gordon Campbell’s Liberal Party where she was promoted to deputy premier and education minister. During that time, she brought in a number of changes, including tearing up key provisions in teachers’ contracts regarding class size and composition. The changes were challenged by the B.C. Teacher’s Federation and were later found to be unconstitutional.
In 2004, Clark left provincial politics and in 2003, announced she would seek the nomination of the Non-Partisan Association (NPA) to run for mayor in Vancouver. She lost the nomination to Sam Sullivan, who was later elected as mayor.
Clark was on the radio at CKNW AM980 for several years where she hosted the Christy Clark Show. Then in 2010, after Campbell resigned, Clark announced her intent to seek the leadership of the B.C. Liberal Party. She launched her leadership bid with a “family-first agenda” and was elected leader on the third ballot with 52 per cent of the vote over former Health Minister Kevin Falcon’s 48 per cent.
When Clark was sworn in as premier of B.C. on March 14, 2011, she did not hold a seat in the legislature. She then ran in Campbell’s former riding of Vancouver-Point Grey and defeated NDP candidate David Eby.
In 2013, the B.C. Liberals were expected to lose with polls showing Clark was one of the least popular premiers in Canada. However, Clark led the party to victory but she lost her seat in Vancouver-Point Grey to Eby. She then ran in the by-election in Kelowna West (formerly Westside-Kelowna) to re-enter the Legislative Assembly. The incumbent MLA, government whip Ben Stewart, resigned in Clark’s favour.
Clark’s Liberals governed British Columbia for a total of 5,869 days or 16 years. Clark first led a majority B.C. Liberal government after the election in 2013.
She was known for pursuing resource projects like the Site C dam and LNG development. Clark’s four-year term was known for economic growth, job creation and balanced budgets.
But there were also a number of scandals, including the deaths of kids in government care, triple-deleted emails and firings at the Ministry of Health. Following those firings, a former B.C. health worker took his own life after being caught up in a government drug policy investigation. There was also criticism over political fundraising practices in B.C.
The Liberals won a minority government in May with 43 seats to the NDP’s 41 and the Green’s three. The Greens and the NDP signed a confidence and supply agreement and the Liberals were defeated in a non-confidence vote. While Clark said the government couldn’t function under an NDP minority government due to the tight majority, the lieutenant-governor asked Horgan to form a government.
Clark had said she would stay on as opposition leader.
Below is a note from Christy Clark to party members.The Party Executive will now meet within 28 days to set the rules…
Posted by BC Liberal Party on Friday, July 28, 2017
2/2 The Party Executive will meet within 28 days to set the rules for a leadership election process. pic.twitter.com/YyF25SA3Pc
— Today's BC Liberals (@bcliberals) July 28, 2017