Kelowna byelection called for July 10

Premier Christy Clark to run in Westside-Kelowna as legislature resumes without her

Kelowna-Westside MLA Ben Stewart

Premier Christy Clark has called a byelection for July 10, after Westside-Kelowna MLA Ben Stewart resigned his seat within hours of being sworn in for a second term.

Clark lost her Vancouver-Point Grey seat to NDP candidate David Eby on election night, as the B.C. Liberal Party won a fourth majority government.

The B.C. legislature is to resume sitting by the end of June, without the premier until she wins a seat. The NDP candidate in Westside-Kelowna is local teacher Carole Gordon, who lost by more than 6,000 votes to Stewart in the May 14 general election.

The B.C. Conservative candidate is Sean Upshall, who finished fourth in the neighbouring Penticton constituency in the general election.

Clark said Tuesday she had hoped to be able to join the government benches when the legislature reopens, but the public’s business can’t be held up to wait for her. The government will table an updated version of its February budget, and MLAs will spend July debating that and the spending estimates of the 19 ministries that collect and spend more than $40 billion this year.

Stewart said he expects Clark to do well in the by-election, by working as hard as she did to win the election. He dismissed suggestions that there would be a backlash against an outsider coming in to represent the constituency previously held by former premier Bill Bennett.

“I think that the voters have a much greater insight that it’s necessary,” Stewart said. “We need to have the premier in the house, and that’s one of the reasons why stepping aside to help her do what I believe is necessary to govern is what’s important to British Columbia.”

Green Party leader Jane Sterk said the party won’t run a candidate in the byelection, because the people have chosen Clark to be premier.

 

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