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

NIDES sending two robotics teams to world championships

Navigate squads will be only Vancouver Island reps at VEX World Championships in Louisville

Dead rabbits found at Comox Valley Exhibition Grounds stoke concerns about Nanaimo virus

A B.C. wildlife veterinarian says a few of the dead bunnies will be sent for diagnosis next week.

Courtenay-Comox MLA talks water bottling business in Merville

Ronna-Rae Leonard remained neutral when asked if she opposes the proposed business

Pickleball courts to be built at Highland Park

Courtenay Rotary announces project Wednesday

Vancouver Island’s Best Videos of the Week

A look at some of the best video stories from the past week ending March 16, 2018

BCHL Today: Wenatchee Wild goaltenders a cause for concern

BCHL Today is a (near) daily look at what’s going on around the league and the junior A world.

Lilia Zaharieva wants to share her medical good fortune

UVic student wants treatment for cystic fibrosis made available for all

Canadian survivors, supporters rally against proposed ’60s Scoop settlement

Some have accused the government of underestimating the number of survivors

Nordic athlete Arendz to be Canada’s flagbearer at Paralympic closing ceremony

The biathlete and cross-country skier from Hartsville has raced to five medals in Pyeongchang

B.C. community cheers on Natalie Wilkie as she wins first gold medal

Local skier tops the podium in 7.5km race at the PyeongChang Paralympics

Experts: Society has a role in trying to prevent domestic violence

Experts are speaking out following the murder of a woman and her son in Ontario

Northern lights chasers in Canada discover new type named ‘Steve’

Phenomenon linked to a powerful current created by charged particles in Earth’s upper atmosphere

Progress on fixing Phoenix pay system backlog could be short-lived: Ottawa

Feds have said they won’t try to recover money overpaid until all outstanding issues are fixed

Most Read