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Premier looking for Kelowna seat?

Calling him a man of 'courage' and 'conviction,' Premier Christy Clark accepted an offer from Westside-Kelowna MLA Ben Stewart to step aside and offer up his seat.

The gesture was made as the premier looks for a riding to call home after she lost her seat to the NDP's David Eby in her own Vancouver-Point Grey riding in the May 14 BC election."

"I want to ensure the premier gets a chance to deliver on - not just our vision - but on some of the real things we need to do for British Columbians," stated Stewart.

"So, today I am letting you know that I intend to step down as your MLA for Westside-Kelowna and make the riding available to Premier Christy Clark."

Stewart says he continues to support the premier and will do what he can to help her along the way.

"Ben I want you to know I am humbled by your act of character, your selflessness and the values you so clearly stand up for," stated Clark in making the announcement Wednesday afternoon at Quail's Gate Winery, the winery owned by the Stewart family.

"I want to express my gratitude to you as well. Stepping aside from four years of worthy and incredibly dedicated service in this community."

Clark says stepping aside from four years as MLA for the 'good of the province' is an act of character.

"That is the act of a man whose values reflect all of the values that we hope we can stand for and certainly that we hope our children can stand for," says Clark.

Stewart made the offer to step aside sometime after the election results were made official Tuesday.

Similar offers, according to the premier, were made by numerous other MLA's across the province.

Kelowna-Mission MLA Steve Thomson and Kelowna-Lake Country MLA Norm Letnick, both in attendance at Wednesday's announcement, confirmed to Castanet News that they too also offered up their seats to the premier.

Clark will attempt to represent a region that has, on two other occasions, also been served by a premier - WAC Bennett and Bill Bennett.

She says it wasn't hard to pick the Okanagan and, specifically, Westside-Kelowna.

"This is the cradle of free enterprise in Canada and I am honoured to carry those values forward. Amongst all the offers I received from MLA's, this one felt like the most natural choice."

Clark says she will not be an absentee MLA and, if elected, will set up a second residence in the riding.

She did state however that she had no intention of taking her son out of school in Vancouver meaning she would likely only live in the riding during the summer and perhaps holidays.

No date has been set for a by-election, however, Clark says the by-election is expected to be called within a week meaning voting would likely be held sometime in early or mid July.

NDP leader Adrian Dix issued a press release late Wednesday afternoon stating his party will run a candidate against Clark in Westside-Kelowna.

"We are looking forward to running a strong campaign with an Okanagan candidate against the Premier in Westside-Kelowna," says Dix

"The BC 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."

Dix says the local constituency office will select the candidate. An announcement will be made in 'due course.'





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