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Campbell shuffles cabinet, stands by unpopular HST

British Columbia Premier Gordon Campbell responded to energy minister Blair Lekstrom's resignation by shuffling the cabinet and reasserting his government's support for the harmonized sales tax.

Lekstrom quit the cabinet and the Liberal caucus this morning saying his party is clearly at odds with his consituents' opinion on the HST and his first job is to represent his constituents. He will remain an MLA and sit as an independent representing Peace River South.

"I respect his position. I understand it but....we clearly disagree," Campbell told reporters in Victoria.

The premier pointed out that cabinet and caucus were consulted before the government brought in the HST and there was agreement to take the measure, which combines the provincial sales tax with the federal GST. "We had to do what was right, not what was popular," he said.

Kootenay East MLA Bill Bennett replaces Lekstrom as the minister of energy, mines and petroleum resources. Westside-Kelowna MLA Ben Stewart takes over community and rural development and Vancouver-False Creek MLA Mary McNeil moves into the citizens' services ministry.

McNeil's responsibilities as minister of state for the Olympics and ActNow B.C. will shift to the ministry of healthy living and sport.

With files from the Canadian Press.

Andrew MacLeod is The Tyee’s Legislative Bureau Chief in Victoria. Reach him here.

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