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New Premier welcomes Bill Bennett

British Columbia’s new premier could have a place for Kootenay East MLA, Bill Bennett, in her government.

“I had a meeting with Christy Clark on Saturday night after the result was announced,” said Bennett. “She was very, very gracious to me, and very welcoming. She would like me to participate in her government and come back into caucus.”

Clark has been meeting with caucus members this week, and Bennett said that they will have to decide whether they want someone like him with an independent mind to be part of government again.

“I’ve told her that I would like to come back, but that’s up to her and the caucus,” he said.

Bennett said that he thinks that Clark will take a much different approach to governing than the one seen with the Gordon Campbell government, and will be more likely to look to the party for decision making.

“A woman as Premier is long overdue in this province,” he said. “I think she will be more consensus driven.”

Bennett had been backing George Abbott, MLA Shuswap, throughout the leadership race.

“I supported George Abbott. He was a rural guy, and I’ve known him for 10 years, and he would have made a great Premier, but the members of the Party obviously felt that they needed someone brand new from the outside, not a sitting member,” he said.

Bennett said that it’s important to recognize that the Clark government is not a continuation of the Campbell government.

Clark was born and raised in Burnaby. In 1996, she was elected to the B.C. legislature, and became the Minister of Education and Deputy Premier in 2001.

She took a break from politics in 2005 and has been working as a political columnist and radio host in the Lower Mainland.

Bennett said that it will be important for Clark to embrace the rural MLAs, like Bennett, as much of her experience is based in Vancouver and the Lower Mainland.

“I think frankly she’s going to need somebody like me, to help her understand rural British Columbia,” said Bennett. “If I go back into government, I’ll know in the first six months, whether we’re going to be able to represent the rural constituents in her government.”

He said that Clark knows she can’t be a successful Premier unless rural B.C. is represented.

“She’s going to have to put a really new, fresh face, on her government,” said Bennett. “She’ll do that through her choice of Cabinet, but she’ll also do that through some new policies.”

Clark is expected to announce her new Cabinet in the next week.

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