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The Globe and Mail

B.C. MLA has 'tremendous admiration' for premier who booted him from caucus

The former Liberal MLA who was booted from the Liberal caucus for his criticism of Gordon Campbell has only kind words for the former premier now.

East Kootenay MLA Bill Bennett was expelled from cabinet last fall after publicly criticizing Mr. Campbell and then punted from the Liberal caucus after he unleashed an astonishing public tirade against the premier.

But Mr. Bennett now says he doesn't want to leave the impression that there's nothing he likes about the long-time B.C. Liberal leader.

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"I have tremendous admiration for the skills that Gordon Campbell showed over his many, many years in public life," Mr. Bennett said after Mr. Campbell announced he was resigning his seat as an MLA. His successor, Christy Clark, was sworn in as premier Monday.

"He will go down in history, I think, as one of the most effective premiers that we've ever had in the province."

Mr. Bennett said Mr. Campbell raised British Columbia's position with the Canadian federation during his tenure as premier.

"I think B.C. during the 1990s, quite frankly, sometimes was belittled and even laughed at ... (that's) no longer the case. I think he's going to be remembered for that," said Mr. Bennett, who has been sitting as an Independent since his outburst.

Another dissident MLA, Blair Lekstrom, was brought back into caucus and even Ms. Clark's new cabinet, but so far Mr. Bennett remains outside the Liberal fold.

Mr. Bennett says he isn't sure whether the caucus will have him back but he hopes it will be easier to have the discussion now that Mr. Campbell has resigned his seat as MLA.

"If they'll have me."

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The Canadian Press

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