Ben Stewart is returning to the B.C. Legislature as the MLA for Kelowna West.
The founder of Quails’ Gate Estate Winery easily won a by-election on Wednesday to replace former premier Christy Clark.
With 7,692 votes, Stewart took more than 56% of the ballots cast, nearly 3,500 more than the NDP’s Shelley Cook in second place. The BC Green Party’s Robert Stupka finished third.
“Congratulations to Ben Stewart on winning the by-election in Kelowna West, and I want to congratulate Shelley Cook for running a stellar campaign,” said premier John Horgan in a statement Wednesday night.
“I know Ben will represent the people of Kelowna West with integrity and compassion, and I look forward to having him rejoin us in Victoria.”
Stewart had served one term as MLA when he stepped down in 2013 to make way for Clark, who had lost her seat in Vancouver-Point Grey to the NDP’s David Eby.
Stewart was then appointed as the province’s Trade and Investment Commissioner to Asia, an assignment that came with a $150,000 per year salary. Critics at the time called it a patronage appointment.
He left that position at the end of December.
Clark resigned on Aug. 4, just over a month after Premier John Horgan was sworn in. He took office after forming a historic alliance with the B.C. Green Party that followed a tumultuous provincial election.
Clark also resigned as leader of the B.C. Liberal party last summer, saying she was leaving politics and public life for good.
Horgan called for the by-election last month.
The win gives the Liberals the most seats in the Legislature with 42 of the 87 seats. The New Democrats have 41 seats along with the Greens who hold three. There is one independent member, former Liberal and current Speaker Darryl Plecas.
With files from CBC