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West Kelowna  

Stewart ready to work

Less than a day after being returned to the legislature by voters in Kelowna West, Ben Stewart says he's ready to get to work.

Stewart reclaimed the seat for the BC Liberals Wednesday night, a seat left vacant after former premier Christy Clark stepped down in August.

He finished with better than 56 per cent of the vote, more than double that of runner-up Shelley Cook of the NDP.

Stewart now has to wait until the results are verified and made official by Elections BC, likely by Monday, before taking his seat in the legislature.

If the time line works, Stewart says he would be sworn in Tuesday morning and assume his seat in the legislature in time for the unveiling of the budget Tuesday afternoon.

Stewart says his first order of business, after getting settled in, is get to know his new caucus. He says he's met most of them, but has never worked with them.

He says they may know of him by reputation, but don't know him either.

Stewart previously represented the riding from 2009 and 2013, where he held four different ministerial portfolios. However, this will be the first time he has sat in opposition.

"(Party) renewal is an opportunity, but it could be a threat as well, as we saw with Bill Vander Zalm, who basically tore the Social Credit Party apart," said Stewart.

"I think it does feel like something new, because we get to reset the agenda. While we've done a lot of good things, I think we need to modernize and make certain we're relevant to British Columbians."

Stewart believes the NDP's throne speech earlier in the week includes some very expensive promises, but to pay for those, he says you need to balance it with a strong economy.

"I would say our government was always trying to do that, but maybe sometimes we needed to err more on the social side or infrastructure."



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