Premier names ex-MLA to new Asia trade post

Ben Stewart to make $150,000 a year, similar to cabinet salary before he stepped down or Westside-Kelowna byelection

Former Westside Kelowna MLA Ben Stewart

Former MLA Ben Stewart is B.C.’s new investment and trade commissioner for Asia, Premier Christy Clark announced Monday.

Stewart will be based in Beijing, but will travel to Japan and Korea to meet regularly with officials working for B.C.’s international trade ministry.

Stewart said his experience promoting the wine industry in Asia will help him in the job. Clark emphasized Stewart’s experience as an MLA and cabinet minister, which she said gives him quick access to her and other cabinet ministers.

“We need a representative in Asia who is known to have access to power and government here in British Columbia,” Clark said. “That is a critical part of doing successful business in Asia.”

Stewart, owner of Quail’s Gate winery, stepped down shortly after winning re-election in Westside-Kelowna in May so Clark could run in a by-election in July.

He will be paid $150,000 to serve in the Asia trade role, which is about the same salary he received as a cabinet minister before he was demoted to the backbench when Clark was selected as B.C. Liberal leader. The cabinet order appointing him allows the salary to increase to $170,000.

NDP international trade critic Bruce Ralston said B.C. has two dozen staffers in their Asian trade offices, with senior people who speak the local languages and are more qualified than Stewart.

“There isn’t a provincial senate, so I guess this is the next best thing,” Ralston said.

Stewart said he worked on trade issues in Hong Kong, Taiwan and Japan as well as Europe and Latin America, trying to open markets for B.C. wine. That experience taught him “how difficult it is to establish relationships from afar,” he said.

The announcement comes as Clark prepares for her own trade mission to Asia in late November, following similar tours by Forests Minister Steve Thomson and Natural Gas Development Minister Rich Coleman.

After the May election, Clark established a new ministry of international trade, headed by Richmond Centre MLA Teresa Wat, who will accompany Clark on the trade mission that continues until Dec. 3.

 

Just Posted

Revelstoke Acrobats bring home nine medals

Gymnastics club leaps to success on trampoline and double mini trampoline

Clovechok speaks to government remembering Field derailment victims

Doug Clovechok, Revelstoke’s MLA, spoke at the legislature today about the derailment… Continue reading

B.C. BUDGET: Surplus $374 million after bailouts of BC Hydro, ICBC

Growth projected stronger in 2020, Finance Minister Carole James says

Columbia Basin Trust offering grants for Community Outdoor Revitalization

Whether it’s a downtown core, plaza or waterfront, outdoor public spaces help… Continue reading

‘Bullet missed me by an inch’: Man recounts friend’s killing at Kamloops hotel

Penticton man witnessed Summerland resident Rex Gill’s murder in Kamloops

VIDEO: 8 things you need to know about the 2019 B.C. budget

Surplus of $247 million with spending on children, affordability and infrastructure

Crash closes highway between Vernon and Lumby

Traffic being routed around the scene

Level nightclub will be closing

Three cougar sightings in Central Okanagan

Two cougars have been reported in Lake Country

Vehicle located in 2018 Shuswap abduction attempt

Chase RCMP say car used has since been sold, suspect still at large

We like it! Readers support the shift in Family Day dates

Readers support the date switch, while Ski Resorts may not

Cougar ‘living’ next door to Okanagan elementary school

Conservation Office has been alerted and monitoring large cat

Dog dies in Kamloops RV fire

According to a fundraiser posted on social media, the cause of the fire was electrical

B.C. BUDGET: Income assistance raise still leaves many below poverty line

$50 per month increase included in funding for poverty and homelessness reduction

Most Read