Babara Geernaert / Prince George Citizen
The B.C. Liberal Party is gearing up for new leadership.
And with those already vying to replace former premier Christy Clark, the question of who will be the best candidate to represent northern B.C. remains a hot topic for Prince George and surrounding rural communities.
Mike Morris, MLA for Prince George-Mackenzie
For Mike Morris, MLA for Prince George-Mackenzie, it's a slate of colleagues and candidates who all have something to offer.
"That's what drew me to this party," Morris says. "It's full of different ideas and our leader needs to enhance and build on that."
Morris is open about his support for one hopeful running for Liberal leadership.
"I'm behind Andrew Wilkinson," Morris says.
"We've had lots of time together and we are very much on the same page and our philosophies are very similar. He also has so much experience from being a lawyer and a doctor in rural communities. He's traveled extensively throughout the province and he understands the north."
Wilkinson, physician turned lawyer, has served as MLA for Vancouver-Quilchena since 2013 and has served as both minister of advanced education and minister of technology, innovation and citizens' services in the Clark government. He holds degrees from the University of Alberta, Dalhousie University and Oxford University, where he attended as a Rhodes Scholar. Wilkinson also worked as a doctor in Campbell River, Lillooet and Dease Lake.
Shirley Bond, MLA for Prince George Valemount, says it's important that a new leader be visible and present and understanding of the north.
"I'm a lifelong advocate for northern B.C. and I'm hopeful we have a leader who listens to rural B.C."
As a member of the Liberal Party executive, Bond is unable to endorse any candidates for leadership.
"I will remain neutral but I am looking forward to this campaign. It will be energetic and it's encouraging to see the number of people running and the hopes people have for the future of the party."
Those in the running will be heard at the upcoming mandated Oct. 15 leadership debate.
"This will be a vigorous campaign and with a number of perspectives," Bond says.
One issue both Bond and Morris say needs more addressing is the need to be heard in northern B.C.
"We need a leader who can bridge the gap between rural and urban B.C.," Bond said.
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