Renee Merrifield speaking to media on her front doorstep after being declared the winner of the Kelowna-Mission riding for the BC Liberal Party on Oct. 24, 2020. (Michael Rodriguez - Capital News)

Central Okanagan MLA’s take on new roles

Renee Merrifield will be taking over for Norm Letnick as the BC Liberal Caucus' health critic

  • Dec. 1, 2020 12:00 a.m.

The BC Liberal Party has announced its shadow cabinet under the new leader Shirley Bond.

And, all three Central Okanagan MLAs are set to play key roles in the opposition caucus.

The first-term MLA for Kelowna-Mission Renee Merrifield will take over Kelowna-Lake Country MLA Norm Letnick’s former place as health critic. Ben Stewart has moved from critic for trade and citizens’ services to the critic for housing.

Letnick has moved out of a critic position and will instead take on the assistant deputy speaker role in the house.

Merrifield, a self-admitted “rookie” politician who has never before held public office, is being thrust into one of the Liberal Party’s most prominent positions as the health critic in the middle of a pandemic. It’s an opportunity, she said, she was shocked to be offered but honoured to take on.

“What I lack in experience, I’m going to make up for in hard work, diligence, passion, excitement and ultimately, learning,” she said.

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Letnick received bi-partisan accolades for his work early in the pandemic, specifically for setting up town halls across party lines. Merrifield said she’s looking to continue building upon what Letnick laid the groundwork for.

Previously, Merrifield served on the Interior Health board of directors from 2015 through 2017.

For his new role as housing critic, Stewart is hoping to hold the government to account on what he describes as

“I haven’t been particularly impressed with the results of the government … in terms of housing affordability and housing supply,” said Stewart. “Three years ago, it was all about making life more affordable. I’m sorry, but I don’t think it is more affordable.”

As for Letnick, he said he is looking forward to embracing his position as the assistant deputy speaker under the party’s interim leader. The assistant deputy speaker presides over debate in the assembly if both the speaker and deputy speaker are absent.

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