Lekstrom back in B.C. Liberal fold

Peace River South MLA Blair Lekstrom

Peace River South MLA Blair Lekstrom has been welcomed back to the B.C. Liberal party caucus, satisfied that premier-designate Christy Clark will listen to the people on the harmonized sales tax.

Lekstrom quit as energy minister and left to sit as an independent in June 2010, just weeks after voting to adopt the HST along with the rest of the B.C. Liberal cabinet and caucus. The HST is particularly unpopular in the Peace region and other areas that border on Alberta.

Clark chaired her first caucus meeting Wednesday at a downtown Vancouver hotel, and during a break she emerged with Lekstrom to announce his return.

Discussions are also underway to readmit Kootenay East MLA Bill Bennett, who succeeded Lekstrom as energy minister and then was ejected from cabinet and caucus in November for public criticisms of Premier Gordon Campbell.

One of Bennett’s complaints was Campbell’s sweeping reorganization of resource ministries, which continues as Clark prepares to choose her new cabinet.

Clark began her leadership campaign aiming to get rid of the HST as quickly as possible, but has since decided to proceed with a province-wide vote on the tax.

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