Andrew Wilkinson visited Prince Rupert on Oct. 12 to make his case for BC Liberal leadership. (Matthew Allen/ The Northern View)

Wilkinson visits Prince Rupert

As the BC Liberal leadership election date gets closer, two candidates made the trip to Prince Rupert to receive feedback from party supporters. On Oct. 12, Andrew Wilkinson spent some time in Prince Rupert making the case for why he is the best candidate for the coveted position.

“People always are concerned about their prosperity and where their future lies and how their kids are going to be successful,” he said. “And my message is the reason I’m doing this and seeking leadership is because we want to make sure British Columbia remains a land of opportunity where people can get ahead and where their kids can get ahead.”

Wilkinson said this meant making sure people have the right skills and training, and that they have access to the right job opportunities. He said he felt that the fact that the Liberals got more votes than the NDP in the last provincial election showed there was a feeling that “…a free enterprise party provides stronger prospects for the future.” However, he added that the party had to work to help more people see that if the Liberals wanted to be successful after the leadership race.

“Our job is to make sure even more people feel comfortable with that approach, and they feel comfortable with the leadership and the goals and ideas of the party,” he said.

Mike Bernier makes his case then withdraws

BC Liberal leadership candidate Mike Bernier also visited Prince Rupert on Oct. 10 to hear from local residents about issues they consider important as he solidifies his bid for the party’s top job.

Like Wilkinson, Bernier has been traveling across the province getting feedback from Liberal supporters ahead of the party’s 2017 vote. Bernier said the number one message he received from people was the need for better communication between the party and its constituents.

“Last election, people felt that the BC Liberals weren’t listening,” he said.

Bernier said LNG development has been a polarizing issue, but while it is contentious, there is still potential for its success if the government engaged with local communities and partners better to find common ground.

“We need to have those discussions and relationships earlier in the process,” he said. “Government can play a larger role in facilitating that, especially with something that has provincial significance like LNG.”

Finally, Bernier said people asked for government support and development in Prince Rupert.

“We need to make sure we have a government that develops things here or people will leave,” he said.

On Oct. 14, Bernier announced that he was ending his leaderhip bid to become co-chair of fellow candidate Michael de Jong’s campaign.

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