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.

Get local stories you won't find anywhere else right to your inbox.
Sign up here

Just Posted

Video: Monster Truck Chaos takes over Prospera Place in Kelowna

Performing at the shows were Rockstar, Identity Theft, California Kid, Spitfire and Skeletor

Unplug and Play Literacy Week returns in late January

The event sponsored by Interior Savings encourages everyone young and old to unplug from screentime

Kelowna’s Tess Critchlow gears up for World Cup at Big White

Critchlow is a professional snowboarder competing for Team Canada in the boardercross competition

Rockets stunned in 7-0 loss to Portland

Portland’s goaltender Dante Gianuzzi was named the game’s first star with a 17-save shutout

After cashing in on QB gambles, Chiefs and 49ers to clash in Super Bowl

KC beats Tennessee, San Francisco dispatches Green Bay to reach NFL title game

How to beat Blue Monday, the most depressing day of the year

Multiple factors can play a role in seasonal depression, says Fraser Health psychiatrist

B.C. VIEWS: Few clouds on Horgan’s horizon

Horgan’s biggest challenge in the remainder of his term will be to keep the economy humming along

Victoria family focuses on ‘letting go, enjoying time together’ after dad gets dementia

Walter Strauss has developed an interest in music and now takes line dancing classes

B.C. forest industry grasps for hope amid seven-month strike, shutdowns, changes

Some experts say this could be worse for forestry than the 2008 financial crisis

Northern B.C. RCMP investigating alleged sexual assault in downtown Smithers

One person was transported by ambulance to hospital following RCMP investigation at Sedaz

UBC, Iranian-Canadian community create memorial scholarship in honour of victims

The Jan. 8 crash killed 176 people, including 57 Canadians

Disrespectful that Horgan won’t meet during northern B.C. tour: hereditary chief

Na’moks said he was frustrated Horgan didn’t meet with the chiefs

Most Read