Christy Clark spent five years in opposition trying to chase the NDP out of power.
She then spent four years trying to “clean up their mess,” which she said caused 50,000 people to leave B.C. due to a job shortage.
“That was a big job,” Clark said Tuesday before a crowd at Snooker’s Lounge at the Westerly Hotel. “I don’t think British Columbia can afford to have the NDP back in power.”
She intends to keep Liberal opponents on the sidelines as she campaigns to replace Gordon Campbell as premier of B.C.
Another reason the former deputy premier-turned radio talk show host is bidding for the top political seat in the province has to do with family. Clark, who served as education minister during her time in office, “learned a lot about families” while standing with other parents at the edge of soccer pitches and at hockey arenas.
She is proposing a Family Day holiday in February to give families more time together during the long stretch from New Year’s to Easter, as is done in Alberta, Saskatchewan and Ontario.
A February holiday, she added, would benefit the tourism sector.
While she praised Campbell for creating jobs, Clark said the B.C. Liberals need credibility to win the next provincial election.
“Government has an obligation to us.”
Which starts at the office of the premier.
“The premier has to allow his or her cabinet to do their jobs,” Clark said. “I think we have to unleash MLAs in the culture of Victoria … We have to stop being afraid of disagreement.”
She advocates more free votes and private member bills.
“We have to re-earn public trust in our political party. We have to remain a net importer of people in British Columbia. We cannot go back to the days of empty storefronts, literally, in cities across the province where people can’t find work.
“We cannot afford to lose this election,” she added. “And that’s why I’m running …I think I have what it takes to take on the NDP. We’re not going to be taking on Cheech and Chong. We are going to have a credible candidate heading up the NDP.”
Although she supports the HST, Clark was “dismayed” at the way in which government introduced the tax, disconnecting people in the process.
“It was almost doomed from the beginning,” she said.
While recognizing restaurant and pub owners’ concerns about the potentially devastating effects of the HST on theirs and other businesses, she feels tougher drinking-driving laws are more hurtful to business, and supports Solicitor General Rich Coleman’s review of the legislation.
Clark hopes to restore $15 million in “ludicrous” funding cuts to non-profits, arts and sports groups, and to ensure a stable source of funding for volunteer organizations from gaming money.
Following the Valley visit, the Clark campaign headed to Campbell River. The entourage includes former CTV news anchor Pamela Martin, who is chair of the membership drive.