Polls open for Kelowna-West byelection to fill Christy Clark's former seat

Former premier Christy Clark gives a statement after her B.C. Liberal minority government was defeated on a confidence vote in Victoria

More than 6000 vote early

With all but a handful of ballots to be counted, Stewart was holding a strong lead in the riding of Kelowna West late Wednesday with just under 57 per cent of the votes counted.

The win gives the Liberals the most seats in the Legislature with 42 of the 87 seats.

Voters are heading to the polls in Kelowna today, casting ballots to replace former premier Christy Clark.

To no one's surprise, Liberal candidate Ben Stewart - who was the riding's MLA from 2009 to 2013 - handily retained the riding for the Liberals with twice as many votes as the NDP candidate, Shelley Cook.

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She resigned as MLA for Kelowna-West on August 4, just over a month after Premier John Horgan was sworn in.

He said returning to politics "wasn't on the radar screen" but changed his mind after checking with supporters.

Horgan also congratulated Cook for running what he called a stellar campaign.

Ben Stewart, seen here in 2013 with Christy Clark. The BC Green Party's Robert Stupka is in third place.

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Results of this by-election have the potential to further sharpen the razor-thin balance of power held by the Green party-backed minority New Democrat government.

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"They've basically created a trade war with Alberta which was certainly not necessary. I think they've misread the electorate on it".

Originally, the Liberals had 43 seats, but after former Liberal MLA Darryl Plecas agreed to serve as Speaker of the House, he was kicked out of the Liberal Party.

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The B.C. Liberals were in power for 16 years, but last May's provincial election resulted in no party having a clear majority.

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