January 03, 2014 - 8:51 AM
KELOWNA - So the first part isn’t/wasn’t/will never be news. Of course the Central Okanagan was going to vote Liberal over the NDP in the May election.
But a Premier as our MLA? That’s never happened bef… oh, wait. Yeah, we've had a couple before and it seems to have worked out pretty well.
When Christy Clark lost her seat in Vancouver/Point Grey as the only sour note in an otherwise stunning comeback, crushing of the NDP, she had to pick somewhere safe for her seat and landed in West Kelowna.
She chose to send Ben Stewart packing as MLA for Westside-Kelowna and ran in a byelection in his home town. She was right to choose a safe seat and was rewarded with more than 60 per cent popular vote.
While Clark said she had no intention of moving to the Central Okanagan (she intended to have a second home here), she is nevertheless the third Premier representing Kelowna. W.A.C. Bennett was the 25th Premier from 1952 to 1972, still its longest serving. His son, Bill Bennett was the 27th premier, leading the Social Credit Party from 1975 to 1986.
Thirty years in the top office in B.C. has worked out pretty well for the Central Okanagan, which has taken great advantage of the Okanagan Lake Floating Bridge, then the William R. Bennet Floating Bridge, the Coquihalla and the Coquihalla Connector. And Clark was quick to point that out when she announced her candidacy.
So far, it appears to have worked out well. Kelowna was the site of an important meeting between Clark and Alberta Premier Alison Redford in June. Clark paid some special attention to the local wine industry, promised help for Westside Road, long considered one of the province’s most dangerous, and announced recently that a major Liberal Party caucus meeting will be held here next May.
And Ben Stewart? I guess you could say it worked out well for him as well. He was appointed to a lovely new B.C. trade commissioner posted in Asia.
To contact a reporter for this story, email Marshall Jones at firstname.lastname@example.org, call 250-718-2724 or tweet @marshalljones23
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