WE'RE ABOUT TO SEE A WHOLE LOT MORE OF CLARK AND ADRIAN DIX
Christy Clark chose the Liberal stronghold of Westside-Kelowna as one of the safest seats in the province to hold.
Premier Clark announced today that MLA-elect Ben Stewart was vacating his seat to hold a byelection for Clark, who lost her seat during the provincial election in the Vancouver-Point Grey riding. Stewart won his riding with 58 per cent of the votes.
"I have personally been working with the premier and I'm a strong advocate," Stewart said, at one point choking back tears. "I want to make sure the premier gets to deliver not only on our vision, but the vision of British Columbians."
Clark told media and supporters she would find a second residence in the riding, but no—she is not moving there. Stewart says he will continue to support Clark and that four years he served in cabinet was a remarkable experience. He leaves after a single term, meaning he is not eligible for a pension.
"I've been fortunate enough to have great success as an entrepreneur in B.C.," he said, adding that he hasn't made any plans about his future outside politics yet. The announcement was made at beautiful Quail's Gate Winery, which he helped build.
Clark said she expects to begin campaigning soon, though the byelection won't likely be called until July. B.C. NDP Leader Adrian Dix said he won't let the riding won't go untested.
"We are looking forward to running a strong campaign with an Okanagan candidate against the Premier in Westside-Kelowna," he said. "The B.C. NDP will run a candidate with local roots who can offer the people of Kelowna and West Kelowna a strong, local voice in the legislature."
He did not name a candidate and said that's up to the local constituency association. The NDP's Carole Gordon got 29 per cent support in the last election.
"We will be in a position to announce who that is in due course," he said. "I will put every effort into supporting our candidate and making the case for strong, local representation in this by-election."
Clark vowed to be in the riding as much as possible and be responsive to local concerns. We will soon be seeing a lot of Dix and Clark. She said several times she would move caucus and committee meetings to Kelowna and quipped that having a local premier has worked out pretty well for Kelowna in the past (bridges, highways, etc). She said Stewart was one of many MLAs to offer their seat but Kelowna is a natural political "home of free enterprise."
Stewart told reporters he was disappointed to see how hard Clark worked across the province during the campaign only to lose her own seat.
"Ben has been a great part of the campaign for the past 29 days. A number of MLAs across the province were willing to give up their seats. He (Stewart) did it because he's a man of character. He didn't need to be asked," said Clark.
Ben Stewart and Christy Clark chose Stewart's beautiful Quail's Gate Winery as the backdrop for the announcement.
(Story edited 6:15 p.m.)