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

Drag races headed back towards Alberni airport for 2019

Drag racing association receives approval, pending agreement with ACRD

Port Alberni author Gwynne Hunt releases new book

Unlocking the Tin Box is a true tale of family dysfunction

VALLEY SENIORS: Ernie and Margaret Bigelow enjoy 60 years of marriage

The couple met in Port Alberni when Ernie bought a “shack” next door to Margaret

Alberni darts player heading to national championships

Jason Bagnell is fundraising for his trip to Nova Scotia

ARTS AROUND: Giant book sale approaches in Port Alberni

This is the last week to drop off all your donations

VIDEO: Driver in bizarre hit-and-run at B.C. car dealership turns herself in

Police believe alcohol was a factor in incident causing estimated $15,000 in damages

‘B.C. cannot wait for action’: Top doctor urges province to decriminalize illicit drugs

Dr. Bonnie Henry says current approach in ‘war on drugs’ has criminalized and stigmatized drug users

B.C. woman, 76, challenges alcohol-screening laws after failing to give breath sample

Norma McLeod was unable to provide a sample because of her medical conditions

New report on 2017 wildfires calls for better coordination with B.C. First Nations

Tsilhqot’in National Government documents 2017 disaster and lists 33 calls to action

B.C. youth coach banned amid sexual harassment, bullying scandal: Water Polo Canada

Justin Mitchell can’t take part in Water Polo Canada events or clubs

Wilson-Raybould: Feds want to just ‘manage the problem’ of Indigenous Peoples

Former federal justice minister speaks at First Nations Justice Council meeting in B.C.

Woman who was chased and tackled after break-in sentenced on Vancouver Island

Natasha Geraldine Harris, 28, was sentenced to time served and will be released from jail

Female real estate agents warned of suspicious man in Metro Vancouver

The man requests to see homes alone with the female agent, police say

Can you put your phone down for Mother’s Day?

#DiningMode campaign encourages people to leave the phone alone while eating

Most Read