- Thursday, 11 July 2013 10:38
Yesterday, BC's Premier, Christy Clark, handily won the by-election in the riding of Westside Kelowna making her the first BC Premier in decades to represent a wine industry riding. Westside Kelowna is home to many wineries including some of BC's most successful ones. Indeed, the previous MLA (who stepped down for Clark) was Ben Stewart whose family owns Quails Gate winery which is located in the riding. The election win is a good sign for the BC wine industry because wine industry issues will now be at the heart of the Premier's constituency. Indeed, it may well be that Clark is now the province's first real "Wine Industry Premier". The last BC Premier to hail from the Okanagan was Bill Bennett but his reign as provincial leader ended prior to the tremendous growth and expansion of the Okanagan wine industry which occurred following the inception of NAFTA in 1989. Premier Clark has already announced an overhaul of BC liquor laws (see New BC Govt Commits to Liquor Law Review) which is being led by Suzanne Anton, the new Minister of Justice, and John Yap, Parliamentary Secretary for Liquor Policy Reform. In addition, the government has appointed Herb LeRoy as BC's Honorary Wine Envoy tasked with rallying support for interprovincial wine shipping.