Gordon Wilson (Canadian politician)

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Gordon Wilson
Leader of the Opposition in British Columbia
In office
November 5, 1991 – June 5, 2001
Premier Mike Harcourt
Preceded by Mike Harcourt
Succeeded by Fred Gingell (acting)
Leader of the British Columbia Liberal Party
In office
October 30, 1987 – September 11, 1993
Preceded by Art Lee
Succeeded by Gordon Campbell
Member of the British Columbia Legislative Assembly
for Powell River-Sunshine Coast
In office
October 17, 1991 – May 16, 2001
Preceded by Riding Established
Succeeded by Harold Long
Personal details
Born (1949-01-02) January 2, 1949 (age 68)
Vancouver, British Columbia
Political party British Columbia Liberal Party (1987-1993, 2013-present)
Progressive Democratic Alliance (1993-1997)
British Columbia New Democratic Party (1997-2013)
Spouse(s) Judi Tyabji (1994-)
Elizabeth Wilson(-1994)

Gordon Wilson (born January 2, 1949) is a former provincial politician in British Columbia. He served as leader of the Liberal Party of BC from 1987–1993, leader and founder of the Progressive Democratic Alliance from 1993–1999, and in the provincial cabinet as Minister of Finance and Minister of Employment, Investment and International Trade. He also ran as a candidate in the 2000 BC New Democratic Party leadership race. During the 2013 British Columbia provincial election, Wilson endorsed Liberal Premier Christy Clark for re-election over the NDP's Adrian Dix.[1]


Wilson was born in Vancouver, spent his early years in Kenya and returned to British Columbia in the 1970s.[2] He has a BSc from the State University of New York, and a Master's degree from the University of British Columbia in Resource Economics.[2]

He raised two children with his wife Elizabeth in the Middlepoint area of BC's Sunshine Coast, dabbling in pig farming before teaching Resource Economics and Economic Geography at Capilano College (North Vancouver), where he also served as president of the faculty association.

Political career[edit]

In 1987, Wilson took over as leader of the BC Liberal Party, a moribund party that had not elected a member in over a decade. In the 1991 general election, Wilson's profile skyrocketed after his highly successful performance in the campaign's televised leaders debate. During a nasty squabble between BC Socred leader and Premier Rita Johnston and BC NDP leader Mike Harcourt, Wilson famously said, "Here's a classic example of why nothing ever gets done in the province of British Columbia."[3] It would become the campaign's most successful sound bite.

As a consequence, he led the Liberal Party to win 17 seats, its highest total since 1949. He was largely helped by moderate Socreds crossing over to vote Liberal. The Liberals vaulted from no seats to the Official Opposition in the legislature, relegating the ruling Social Credit Party to a distant third with seven seats. Wilson won his own seat in Powell River-Sunshine Coast.

In 1993, Wilson's leadership of the Liberals was challenged after it came to light that he was having an extramarital affair with fellow Liberal MLA Judi Tyabji, whom he had recently named as the party's House Leader.[4] [5] In a Liberal Party leadership review that had been called soon afterward, Wilson was defeated by Vancouver mayor Gordon Campbell. Within weeks, he and Tyabji left the Liberal caucus and formed a new party, the Progressive Democratic Alliance (PDA).

In the 1996 provincial election, Wilson retained his seat, while Tyabji, whom he later married, lost hers.[5]

In 1999, Wilson shocked many in his party when he disbanded it and crossed the floor to join the governing NDP. As part of the deal, he joined Premier Glen Clark's cabinet as Minister of Aboriginal Affairs and Minister Responsible for BC Ferries.[4][5] He was later appointed Minister of Finance after the resignation of Joy MacPhail, and then Minister of Education.

He ran for the NDP's party leadership at a convention in February 2000, but pulled out of the race shortly before the voting began. He threw his support to candidate Corky Evans, who in turn lost to Ujjal Dosanjh. In the 2001 provincial election, he lost his seat to BC Liberal candidate Harold Long, previously a Social Credit MLA whom Wilson had defeated in 1991 when running for the BC Liberals.

Other work[edit]

He has written A Civilized Revolution (1994) about his views on politics and public policy, and wrote, directed and produced Serving Thyme, a television comedy based on the west coast. After leaving politics, Wilson settled back in Powell River, and became chairman of the board of a software company. He is chairman of Blackberry Coast Capital Inc.[1]


  1. ^ a b Wilson, Gordon (8 May 2013). "Here's why Gordon Wilson supports Christy Clark". Vancouver Sun. Retrieved 9 May 2013. 
  2. ^ a b "Hon. Gordon Wilson - Members at dissolution of 36th Parliament". Legislative Assembly of British Columbia. 18 April 2001. Retrieved 23 August 2010. 
  3. ^ "1991: Gordon Wilson's debate triumph - CBC Archives". CBC.ca. CBC News. Retrieved 8 June 2015. 
  4. ^ a b Kamath, A P (18 November 1999). "More 'Desi' Connections In BC Election". Rediff.com. Retrieved 23 August 2010. 
  5. ^ a b c Hunter, Jennifer (1 March 1999). "Wilson Joins BC's NDP - The Canadian Encyclopedia". The Canadian Encyclopedia. The Historica Dominion Institute. Retrieved 8 June 2015.