Bennett returns to B.C. Liberal fold

Kootenay East MLA Bill Bennett draws a crowd at the legislature in November 2010 with his lengthy critique of former premier Gordon Campbell's leadership style.

Kootenay East MLA Bill Bennett has been welcomed back into the B.C. Liberal caucus, as Premier Christy Clark prepares for a provincial election that could come this year.

Clark and Parksville-Qualicum MLA Ron Cantelon, the B.C. Liberal caucus chairman, made the announcement after a caucus meeting in Vancouver Tuesday. Cantelon said Bennett has always been a valued contributor to the party and his return is welcome.

Speaking to CKNW radio Wednesday, Bennett said he was “very graciously” welcomed back by his fellow MLAs after his expulsion late last year, and said he was not aware of any MLAs who opposed his return.

Bennett was fired as the energy minister in November after he publicly criticized former premier Gordon Campbell’s reorganization of natural resource ministries. He then launched a lengthy tirade against Campbell’s “bullying,” suggesting B.C. Liberal MLAs suffered from “almost battered-wife syndrome” from Campbell’s domineering behaviour. Bennett was expelled from the party caucus at its next meeting.

Bennett has since said he regrets his personal comments about Campbell, which were intended to put pressure on him to step down sooner, and Bennett was willing to apologize to the caucus for his conduct.

Shortly after Clark’s selection as B.C. Liberal leader in February, the caucus welcomed Peace River South MLA Blair Lekstrom back. Lekstrom quit the cabinet and caucus in the spring of 2010 because his constituents objected to the harmonized sales tax, but later said Clark’s plan to hold a referendum on the HST in June was sufficient to bring him back.

Lekstrom was immediately reappointed to cabinet as transportation minister, a signal of the importance of conservative-leaning areas along the Alberta border where criticism of the HST has been intense.

While in exile, Bennett said he was considering remaining as an independent in Kootenay East or looking at a rejuvenated B.C. Conservative Party. He has consistently advocated for rural B.C. in a province dominated by the three quarters of the population living in the southwest.

The B.C. Conservatives have closed their nominations for the long-vacant leadership, with former Delta-Richmond East MLA John Cummins the only candidate to lead them.

Clark has kept her options open for her own return to the B.C. legislature, hinting that it is most likely she will seek the Vancouver-Point Grey seat vacated by Campbell.

 

Just Posted

EDITORIAL: No think-tank report cards for the Observer

Fraser Institute’s annual school ranking isn’t a good measure of success, editor Grace Kennedy writes

LETTER: Why is Jati Sidhu ashamed of his riding?

Lytton’s Christopher di Armani shares his dismay at the potential name change of the MP’s riding

Fraser-Cascade School Board votes to invest in protecting the future of its students’ hearing

Decibel monitors to be installed in secondary schools’ machine shops as a visual guide

Kent-Harrison Foundation celebrates 25 years

The foundation started in 1994 on the promise of a two-for-one donation deal

Bucket-list flight for Chilliwack grandmother

Hampton House resident treated to a beautiful plane ride in Moments that Matter

Harrison Hot Springs students bring ‘Twelfth Night’ to life

The adaption of Shakespeare’s classic comedy include songs and phrases from Canada’s east coast

Bobrovsky perfect as Blue Jackets blank Canucks 5-0

Vancouver shut out for 10th time this season

Fundraising campaign launched for man caught in SilverStar avalanche

In only two days, the GoFundMe surpassed its $15,000 goal

Terror at sea: Helicopter rescues frightened cruise passengers in Norway

The Viking Sky cruise ship was carrying 1,300 passengers and crew when it experienced engine trouble

Search and rescue team helicopters injured climber from B.C. provincial park

A 30-year-old woman suffered a suspected lower-limb fracture in Skaha Bluffs Provincial Park

DOJ: Trump campaign did not co-ordinate with Russia in 2016

Attorney General William Barr said special counsel “does not exonerate” Trump of obstructing justice

Trudeau in Vancouver to support Tamara Taggart at Liberal nomination event

The former broadcaster is seeking the nomination for the Vancouver Kingsway riding

Trudeau calls May 6 byelection for B.C. riding of Nanaimo-Ladysmith

The riding opened up when Sheila Malcolmson resigned in January

B.C. VIEWS: The hijacking of our education system gathers speed

Children taught to strike and shout fringe far-left demands

Most Read