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

Surge in requests for help, reports of sexual assault since #MeToo

Growing demand for Victoria Sexual Assault Clinic’s services in first year of #MeToo

Victoria among Top 10 sunniest Canadian cities

Victoria ranks 6th in sunny days per year

Growing numbers of Vancouver Islanders get flu shots

In 2017 alone, more than 240,000 people got vaccinated

Saanich homeless camp to voluntarily leave provincial land by Tuesday

‘If the province really wants to pick a fight with us, we may end up in John Horgan’s backyard,’ says camp leader Chrissy Brett

Vancouver Giants end Victoria Royals’ win streak

Victoria hockey club hosts defending champions Swift Current Wednesday night

Victoria teen suffers whiplash in school ‘bubble’ soccer game

Middle school students injured in teacher-student competition

Black Press to host extreme career fair in Victoria

The fair will run on Oct. 25 at the Bay Street Armoury

Canadians widely unaware of accomplishments of famous women, poll suggests

A new poll suggests Canadians have a lot to learn about the accomplishments of some of the country’s most famous women.

Temporary access allowed for residents of landslide-threatened B.C. community

The district says areas of access to the community of about 54 homes could be expanded, depending on advice from a geotechnical engineer.

Joint inspection planned for missing journalist at Saudi Consulate

Turkish officials have said they fear a Saudi hit team killed and dismembered Washington Potst reporter Jamal Khashoggi

Sears files for bankruptcy amid plunging sales, massive debt

The company started as a mail order catalogue in the 1880s

BREAKING: Prince Harry and Meghan expecting their 1st child in spring

The announcement of the pregnancy confirms weeks of speculation from royal watchers

Enbridge to begin building road to access pipeline explosion site in B.C.

An explosion Tuesday knocked out a 91-centimetre line

Most Read