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

Slocan Valley to be ‘lit up’ with high-speed internet in 12 months

125 kilometres of fibre-optic cable to be laid from Nakusp to Playmore Junction

Vigil re-affirms belief in peace, acceptance in wake of New Zealand massacre

Nearly 100 show up for solemn event at Mir Centre for Peace

Police bust drug operation in Castlegar

Man charged, will go to court in August

Zoning mix-up nixes Shoreacres property sale

Man says the RDCK’s listings online don’t match his property’s official zoning

Castlegar coach receives Basketball BC honour

Cheryl Closkey recognized for 50 years of volunteering

B.C. researcher says device mimics parent’s touch to help babies cope with pain

Calmer device is a rectangular platform that replaces a mattress inside an incubator

Tofino’s housing crisis causing some to seek shelter at the local hospital

Tofino’s housing crisis is pushing the town’s ‘hidden homeless’ population into the forefront.

Sentencing judge in Broncos crash calls for carnage on highways to end

Judge Inez Cardinal sentenced Jaskirat Singh Sidhu to eight years

2 fires in Victoria caused by cigarettes prompts warning from deputy fire chief

Two separate fires caused by cigarette butts were avoidable

‘Families torn apart:’ Truck driver in fatal Broncos crash gets 8-year sentence

Judge Inez Cardinal told court in Melfort, Sask., that Sidhu’s remorse and guilty plea were mitigating factors

Boy who went missing from park remains largest probe in Victoria police history

The four-year old Victoria boy went missing without a trace on March 24, 1991

WestJet sticking with Boeing 737 Max once planes certified to fly

WestJet had expected to add two more of the planes this year to increase its fleet to 13

B.C. driver caught going 207 km/h on motorcycle along Okanagan Highway

A motorcyclist was caught by Kelowna RCMP going 207 km/h on Highway 97C

Protective human chain forms around B.C. mosque for Friday prayer

Vancouver Islanders stand arm-in-arm to show support in aftermath of New Zealand shootings

Most Read