EDITORIAL: Premier Christy Clark’s choice of seat inevitable

Since Wednesday, there’s already lots of negative commentary about Christy Clark's choice.

Well, at least she didn’t show up riding a Jet Ski.

It’s three days since Premier Christy Clark announced her choice of Westside-Kelowna, neighbour to the Penticton riding, as the place she would be running for a seat in legislature, after failing to win Vancouver-Point Grey in the May 14 election.

Since Wednesday, there’s already lots of negative commentary about her choice. But politics aside, it was a near inevitable choice. The Central Okanagan is a stronghold for the Liberals, and has provided two of the province’s longest serving premiers — W.A.C. Bennett and his son Bill — whom Clark was quick to try to identify herself with.

After losing Point Grey, Clark had no choice but to choose the safest riding possible to run in. And with Ben Stewart willing to step aside gracefully after taking Westside-Kelowna with 58 per cent of the vote, it would be hard to imagine a more suitable riding.

What remains to be seen is whether having the premier in an Okanagan riding will benefit the area. In the past, the valley has benefitted from having a strong caucus within the caucus — the so called Okanagan caucus. Even if you don’t share the conservative ideology, it would be hard to discount the work done by Rick Thorpe and Bill Barisoff who, working together with other Okanagan MLA’s, managed to make sure many needed and beneficial projects for the valley got pushed through the legislature.

The first test for the new Okanagan caucus will be the expansion of Penticton Regional Hospital. Promises abounded during the election that this project was going to move forward, especially from Clark, who pledged to remove any barriers to the long delayed and badly needed project.

The question is, will Clark work with her fellow Okanagan MLAs to fast track the project, or will she act first as premier and chose whichever politically expedient path presents itself?