Former MLA announces bid to replace Clark in Kelowna-West

Ben Stewart, who stepped aside for Clark in 2013, wants his old job back.

Westside-Kelowna MLA Ben Stewart fought off tears as he announced his decision in 2013 to step aside in order to allow then-premier Christy Clark (right) to run in a byelection in what was then known as Westside-Kelowna. —Image credit: Capital News file

Ben Stewart wants his old job back.

The former two-term MLA for what was then known as Westside-Kelowna and is now known as Kelowna West announced Tuesday his intent to seek the B.C. Liberal nomination in the riding. A byelection must be held within the next six months after Clark announced late last week she is leaving politics.

She said she will quit as both Liberal leader and Kelowna-West MLA as of this Friday, Aug. 5.

“It was a genuine honour and love to work for the families and constituents of Westside-Kelowna,” said Stewart Tuesday. “And I look forward to the opportunity to serve again.”

Stewart, who easily won the riding for the B.C. Liberals in 2013, stepped down just weeks after the election to allow party leader, then-premier Christy Clark, to run as she had lost her Vancouver seat to her NDP challenger in the general election. Clark also easily won the subsequent byelection.

Clark then named Stewart, founder and co-owner of Quail’s Gate Winery in West Kelowna, as B.C.special representative in Asia.

During his tenure in government, Stewart served in four different cabinet positions, including as agriculture minister, citizen services and open government minister, citizen services, public affairs bureau and multiculturalism minister and, minister of community and rural economic development.

After leaving politics, Stewart accepted an appointment as British Columbia’s Special Representative in Asia, and served with the Ministry of International Trade and Investment from October 2013 to December 2016.

“It is critical that we continue to address trade barriers and remain competitive both at home and abroad,” said Stewart.

“At a time of instability with softwood lumber, NAFTA, and other trade uncertainties, Kelowna West requires experienced and qualified leadership.”

Added Stewart, “I am running to ensure that the place where I grew up, the place that I call home, has a strong voice moving forward.”

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