BRITISH COLUMBIA

Gordon Wilson, Former BC Liberal Leader, Endorses Christy Clark (VIDEO)

05/06/2013 11:19 EDT | Updated 07/06/2013 05:12 EDT
POWELL RIVER, B.C. - Former B.C. Liberal leader Gordon Wilson says he has come home to the party he put on the map in 1991 before forming his own party and then crossing the floor to the New Democrats.

Wilson announced in a YouTube video that he is rejoining the party he left in 1993 and supporting Premier Christy Clark as she aims to lead the Liberals to victory in the May 14 election.

"At this juncture, when global economies are so fragile it's important that those who lead us have a clear vision with respect to their intentions despite the challenges that may frustrate their abilities to get there," he said in the video posted Sunday.

Wilson, who is now a consultant and lives in the Sunshine Coast community of Powell River, said he decided to back the Liberal re-election bid after NDP Leader Adrian Dix opposed any expansion of the $5-billion Kinder Morgan oil pipeline across southern British Columbia.

Wilson said he felt compelled to announce his decision after working with both Clark and Dix in the past.

"And I'm here to tell you that Christy Clark will make the better premier."

He said Clark's party represents the best choice for British Columbians.

"Frankly, I am shocked that Adrian Dix will acknowledge that the challenges within the international economy have caused British Columbia to reach record debt levels."

Wilson said Dix's plan to run deficits, increase the debt and then hike bank, corporate and personal taxes for people earning more than $150,000 to help pay it down won't help the economy.

"He plans a tax assault on B.C. business, but B.C. business is not an ATM for the NDP."

Clark said she is delighted to have Wilson on board, and brushed aside reminders about his politically fickle past.

"At his heart he is still the progressive man who wants to change the world and make sure we are doing our best to look after people," Clark said.

"I think now he would probably tell you that his experience in the private sector has really hammered home for him how important the economy, and growing the economy, is if we want to make sure we can do those things that matter to all of us."

Dix said Wilson's support for Clark is not surprising because he backed the Liberal party's controversial strategy to woo ethnic voters, including so-called "quick wins" by addressing historical wrongs.

"I'm not worried," Dix said, adding he feels comfortable about the strong support that NDP candidate Nicholas Simons has in the West Vancouver-Sunshine Coast riding where Wilson lives.

"There's one piece of bad news, that Nicholas Simons in Powell-River-Sunshine Coast is not going to win 100 per cent of the vote because apparently Mr. Wilson won't be voting for him, but I think Nicholas Simons is doing pretty well."

Wilson led the provincial Liberals out of obscurity in 1987, but left the party after a dispute in 1993, when he lost the Liberal leadership to then-mayor Gordon Campbell, Clark's predecessor.

British Columbia may remember Wilson most for his romantic relationship with fellow Liberal MLA Judi Tyabji while they were both married and later wed each other.

They then formed the Progressive Democratic Alliance, which Wilson headed until 1999.

Wilson then jumped to the New Democrats, serving on the front benches in several ministries, including aboriginal affairs, before making an unsuccessful bid for the NDP leadership in 2000.

Wilson's hop from one party to another earned him the nickname "Flip Wilson."

"It's been 20 years since I called myself a Liberal, but it's time to come home," he said, adding "it's time for all progressive thinkers to join forces." (The Canadian Press, CFAX)

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