West Kelowna  

Premier ready to work for your vote

Despite a long history of electing Liberal, and before that, Social Credit MLA's, Premier Christy Clark says she is not taking anything for granted, as she gets set to campaign for a seat in Westside-Kelowna.

The premier dropped the election writ Wednesday morning. The byelection for Ben Stewart's vacant seat is on Wednesday, July 10.

"I am not going to take anything for granted," says Clark who will go head to head with NDP candidate Carole Gordon who finished more than 6,000 votes behind Stewart on May 14.

"I think I am going to have to work to earn everybody's vote - and I should. I am going to knock on doors, I am going to talk to as many people as I can and I hope I can make the point to people that the chance to be represented again by a premier as the community has for years and years in history, I think, is a good thing."

Clark was forced to look for a seat after she lost in her home riding of Vancouver-Point Grey on election night.

She accepted Stewart's offer to make his seat available.

The premier, who made herself available to several media outlets once the writ was dropped says she hopes there will be no voter backlash over her decision to accept Stewart's offer to step aside.

She says that decision was Stewart's alone.

"Ben offered to step aside and he has also offered to be the chairman of the campaign - to be working beside me everyday as I am campaigning there," says Clark.

"Ben did an honourable thing and he did it for our province, he did it for his community and he did it because he believed it was the right thing to do."

Stewart is also helping the premier get up to speed on local issues.

She identified Westside Road, a health care centre in West Kelowna, agriculture, invasive species, GMO's and First Nation issues as some of the things she will be talking about.

"I do also think people are concerned about the bigger issues as well - I don't think it's lost on the people of Westside-Kelowna that growing the economy and having a strong economy is crucially important for us to be able to deliver," says Clark.

The premier also took aim at NDP leader Adrian Dix who slammed the new Liberal government with backtracking on campaign promises by increasing the size of cabinet and raising staff salaries.

She says she wasn't surprised by those accusations.

"The NDP are going to say they are going to run a positive campaign and then every day they are going to be negative. That's exactly what they did during the general election as well," says Clark.

"The cabinet is one person larger and I was elected to do that. In the platform I was really clear we were going to add one ministry to focus like a laser on liquefied natural gas."

As for staff raises, Clark claims some staff actually took a pay cut.

She says it meant a reorganization within the budget, but that the budget itself did not change.

"We are not going to taxpayers to ask for a single penny more to pay for political staff. I did not run on that - I ran on smaller, leaner government - Adrian Dix ran on bigger, fatter government. I am going to keep my promise on that."

The legislature is expected to resume sitting sometime later this month, however, Clark says she expects to spend as much time as possible campaigning in the riding.

She says she will definitely be in Westside-Kelowna more than she was in Vancouver-Point Grey during the general election campaign.

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