West Kelowna  

Byelection in Feb: Horgan

The vacant seat in the legislature left by former premier and Kelowna West MLA Christy Clark's resignation will be filled before the government begins debating the budget in February. 

Premier John Horgan was in West Kelowna Sunday night, where the BC NDP officially acclaimed Shelley Cook as their candidate for the riding. Cook lost to Clark in May's election, garnering just 25 per cent of the votes in the riding.

Cook is the executive director of the Central and South Okanagan chapter of the John Howard Society, a charity and social service agency that helps those impacted by crime and poverty.

Despite Cook's loss in the last election and the riding's history as a BC Liberals' stronghold, Horgan says he's confident going into the byelection.

“I think the positive changes we've seen in the short time we've been in government will give people here pause and rather than just instinctively vote Liberal, they're going to think about their options and the best choice for them, and I think the best choice will be Shelley Cook,” Horgan said.

Cook will be running against the BC Liberals' Ben Stewart, who represented the riding as MLA from 2009 to 2013, before stepping down to allow then-Premier Christy Clark to run in the riding.

Despite being party leader, Clark had been defeated in her Vancouver-Point Grey riding and needed a BC Liberals-friendly riding to run in.

Following his resignation as MLA in 2013, Stewart was appointed as the province's trade commissioner in Asia.

“This community will have had four elections in four years after the next byelection, and that says to me that the Liberals believe that the people in this region can be traded back and forth from one to another,” Horgan said.

“I believe that the notion of giving up your seat and then getting a patronage appointment, I think for many, was quite unseemly.”

Horgan said the date of the Kelowna West byelection will be announced in early January, followed by the mandated 28 days of campaigning.

The Green Party, who ran candidate Robert Mellalieu in the riding in May, will announce their candidate for the byelection Monday afternoon.  

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