Ste­wart re­claims old seat for Lib­er­als in Kelowna by­elec­tion

The Province - - NEWS -

KELOWNA — Lib­eral Ben Ste­wart has won a by­elec­tion to re­place for­mer B.C. pre­mier Christy Clark in the leg­is­la­ture.

With all but a hand­ful of bal­lots to be counted, Ste­wart was hold­ing a strong lead in the rid­ing of Kelowna West late Wed­nes­day with just un­der 57 per cent of the votes counted.

New Demo­crat Shel­ley Cook was in sec­ond place with 23 per cent of the vote and Robert Stupka of the B.C. Green party was third with 12.5 per cent.

Ste­wart’s vic­tory win means the Lib­er­als will have 42 seats in the leg­is­la­ture — one more than the gov­ern­ing New Democrats.

Kelowna West be­came va­cant when Clark re­signed both as leader of the B.C. Lib­eral Party and as the mem­ber of the leg­isla­tive as­sem­bly last sum­mer, fol­low­ing her party’s fall from power. Ste­wart, the founder of Quails’ Gate Es­tate Win­ery, had won the rid­ing in 2013, but bowed out to al­low Clark to run af­ter she had lost the Van­cou­ver-Point Grey rid­ing.

The B.C. Lib­er­als were in power for 16 years, but last May’s provin­cial elec­tion re­sulted in no party hav­ing a clear ma­jor­ity. Clark’s Lib­er­als, with 42 seats to the NDP’s 41, tried to form govern­ment, but the party was de­feated in a non-con­fi­dence vote.

The New Democrats struck an agree­ment with the B.C. Green party, where its three mem­bers would sup­port the NDP’s leg­isla­tive agenda on sup­ply and bud­get is­sues.

The Kelowna West rid­ing is in the heart of B.C.’s wine re­gion, a sec­tor caught up in the dis­pute be­tween B.C. and Al­berta’s two NDP govern­ments over the ex­pan­sion of the Trans Moun­tain pipe­line.

Elec­tions B.C. says more than 6,000 peo­ple cast bal­lots in six days of ad­vance vot­ing.

NICK PROCAYLO/ PNG FILES

Ben Ste­wart, founder of Quails’ Gate Es­tate Àin­ery, has won the by­elec­tion in the Kelowna Àest rid­ing, giv­ing the Lib­er­als 42 seats in the leg­is­la­ture.

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