B.C. Liberal leader Andrew Wilkinson and Kelowna West MLA Ben Stewart at the B.C. legislature, Feb. 27, 2018. (Tom Fletcher/Black Press)

Ben Stewart rejoins B.C. Liberal caucus

Andrew Wilkinson leads bigger group than B.C. NDP

Ben Stewart has rejoined the B.C. Liberal caucus for a second term as Kelowna West MLA, bringing the official opposition to 42 seats, one more than the governing NDP.

Stewart took his oath of office Tuesday in the B.C. legislature, after cruising to victory in a by-election Feb. 14 with twice the votes of his NDP rival Shelley Cook.

Stewart said he’s relieved to be back, after the constituency was left without representation following the resignation of former premier Christy Clark. Premier John Horgan waited until January to call the by-election, as the NDP-B.C. Green minority government set about governing.

“I was surprised by how much pent-up demand there was for people looking for an MLA, and it’s been a long six or seven months since we finally got down to the business of having a by-election,” Stewart said.

“Some of the damage from last year’s flooding, a lot of it hasn’t been rectified and government hasn’t been very clear in terms of how they’re going to help repair community beaches, working with local governments and residents.”

B.C. Liberal leader Andrew Wilkinson said the return of Stewart, who served three years as B.C.’s trade representative in China after stepping down in 2013, changes the dynamic of the legislature.

“That highlights the fact that the Green Party with its three members holds the balance of power, and as long as they continue to support the NDP, no matter how ridiculous the NDP’s policies are, the onus is on the Green Party to show why they’re doing this,” Wilkinson said. “And if it’s simply the fact of staying in power, that doesn’t reflect very well on the Green Party, because the NDP will take advantage of them as long as they can.”

Alberta’s sudden move to ban B.C. wine sales came during the by-election campaign, and Stewart said it ignited people’s interest in provincial affairs and Premier John Horgan’s opposition to the Trans Mountain pipeline expansion.

“I think that it spotlighted the fact that British Columbia and Alberta, although governed by the same party, really don’t see eye to eye in terms of how they move ahead on an economic opportunity that’s there,” Stewart said. “Clearly it brought a lot of attention to the fact that British Columbia had supported the federal government and the continuation of twinning that pipeline.”

Related: Stewart to replace Christy Clark in Kelowna West

Related: Final Kelowna West byelection numbers

Like us on Facebook and follow us on Twitter.

Just Posted

Overworked and understaffed: More than 300 vacancies in Vancouver Island nursing

Tentative deal with province includes ‘working short premium’ to encourage hiring

Victoria city council seeks authority to tax empty homes

Council is asking the province for the authority to invoke a vacancy tax

Saanich Mayor Fred Haynes says municipality will re-group after Rowing Canada decision

Haynes said he is “quite disappointed” but also respects choice of North Cowichan as national centre

Saanich police dog tracks dangerous driver after car ditched in Oak Bay

Man may face charges of dangerous driving and mischief

Backyardigans, Max & Ruby stage shows add to Family Day in Sidney

Bodine Hall shows make room for kids to sing, dance, enjoy Family Day weekend

VIDEO: Excessive speed on the Malahat captured by dash cam footage

Poster calls driving ‘dangerous, obnoxious and disrespectful’

POLL: Should people have to license their cats?

The Victoria Natural History Society has sent letters to 13 municipalities in… Continue reading

Greater Victoria Crime Stoppers wanted list for the week of Jan. 15

Greater Victoria Crime Stoppers is seeking the public’s help in locating the… Continue reading

Olympian snowboarder Max Parrot diagnosed with Hodgkin’s lymphoma

Each year in Canada, approximately 900 people are diagnosed with Hodgkin’s lymphoma

‘Prince of Pot’ Marc Emery accused of sexual assault, harassment

Emery denied the allegations, but a Toronto woman says she is not the only one speaking out

Vancouver Island photographer makes National Geographic’s 2018 elite

Rare double honour for Marston from the 36 best Your Shots out of nearly 19,000 photos

Ex-Liberal candidate in Burnaby, B.C., says volunteer wrote controversial post

Karen Wang dropped out following online post singling out NDP Leader Jagmeet Singh’s ethnicity

Asteroids are smacking Earth twice as often as before

The team counted 29 craters that were no older than 290 million years

Canada’s arrest of Huawei exec an act of ‘backstabbing,’ Chinese ambassador says

China has called Canada’s arrest of Huawei chief financial officer Meng Wanzhou ‘politically motivated’

Most Read