Renee Merrifield among 3 Liberal MLAs leaving critic posts to focus on leadership race

Merrifield to focus on race

Kelowna-Mission MLA Renee Merrifield has stepped aside as BC Liberal health critic in advance of the return of the Legislature this fall.

She is one of three sitting MLAs who are seeking leadership of the party, all of whom agreed Thursday to leave their portfolios to focus on the leadership race.

“With less than five months until BC Liberals elect a new leader, it’s vital that those running for leadership have the time to connect with British Columbians and focus on presenting their vision to rebuild and renew our party,” said interim BC Liberal leader Shirley Bond.

“That’s why all three internal candidates for the party leadership have agreed to step aside from their critic roles, allowing the rest of our Caucus to ensure John Horgan and the NDP are held accountable in the key areas of health, environment, and transportation.”

Bond herself will step in as health critic, taking control of the most prominent critic portfolio amid the pandemic.

Merrifield, a rookie MLA, has caused multiple minor controversies during her time as health critic that culminated this week in a rash of negative coverage from political pundits and talk show hosts.

Former BC Liberal MLA Jas Johal, now a CKNW host, called this week for the future leader of the party to remove her as health critic.

During a Twitter spat with Global’s Keith Baldrey, she refused to answer if she supported a vaccine mandate for healthcare workers. Rob Shaw, writing in the Orca, reported the Liberals released a statement the next day explaining they were in support of the mandate.

Kamloops North Thompson MLA Peter Milobar will be taking over the environment critic portfolio from Ellis Ross. MLA Jordan Sturdy will take over as transportation from Michael Lee.

Other candidates seeking the Liberal leadership include Kevin Falcon, Val Litwin and Gavin Dew. The party will select its new leader in February.

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