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

Alberni Pacific Railway temporarily halted

Technical Safety BC discovers ‘regulatory violations’

BCHL: Bulldogs see fourth straight loss at BCHL showcase

Alberni Valley Bulldogs on the road again this weekend

Port Alberni Black Sheep fall to Surrey Beavers in rugby action

Three tries late in the second half cemented the win for Beavers

Addiction should be treated, not criminalized, say health professionals

Port Alberni Shelter Society forum talks opioid crisis

‘Hello, 911? There’s a horse in my living room’

Sproat Lake firefighters called to ‘rescue’ quarter-horse from Alberni Valley house

Alberni Teens Can Rock band Stranger Than Fiction releases first single

Port Alberni group has been performing since 2016

Rattie scores 3 as Oilers blank Canucks 6-0

Vancouver slips to 1-5 in exhibition play

Veterans Affairs ordered to take second look before supporting vets’ relatives

Liberal government ordered officials to adopt a more critical eye

Dead B.C. motorcyclist was member of group that raced down mountain road

Some group members record their rides on Strathcona Parkway and post times to page

Indigenous athletes in spotlight at BC Sports Hall of Fame

New gallery to feature Carey Price, Kaila Mussel and Richard Peter

B.C. couple who went missing on flight from Edmonton named by family

Family released a statement Wednesday saying they’re still intent on finding the two-seater plane

VIDEO: A close look at what you were breathing during the B.C. wildfire season

Electron microscope images show soot and tar particles generated by worst B.C. fire season

Island man calls 911 after being robbed of his drugs

Nineteen-year-old and 15-year-old suspects face multiple charges following robbery Monday in Nanaimo

B.C. woman donates $250,000 to ovarian cancer research for friends

Two of Patty Pitts’s friends passed away from the disease within a year

Most Read