Christy Clark asks Okanagan Liberals to make her party leader

Christy Clark dropped into Vernon and Kelowna today as part of her campaign to replace Gordon Campbell as Liberal leader and B.C. premier.  As the heartland of the old Social Credit party, whose relics are an important part of the party’s right of centre coalition, support here is crucial.

I dropped by the Coast Capri hotel to hear what Ms. Clark had to say.

She was very pleasant and energetic and came across as genuinely happy to see the approximately 25 people who came out four days before Christmas to listen to her.

Ms. Clark said a lot about what she thinks is important but she was careful to avoid committing to any specific policy choices should she win the job. She went on about how she saw merit in many proposals, but stopped short of saying she would pursue any of them if elected.

She’s running on a platform of being for jobs and families. She talked a lot about her nine-year-old son, how important he is to her and how even if she becomes premier, she will continue to be heavily involved in his life as a hockey mom (a kind of homage to Sarah Palin.)

“If you elect me your premier, I’m still going to be at hockey rinks five days a week, but sometimes it’s going to be at 6 a.m., so it won’t cut into my work day very much,” she said during her speech from behind a podium. “So, I hope that’s OK with you.”

Essentially, Ms. Clark is for empowering families, so they can make the best decisions about how to raise their children for themselves. And while she is in favour of providing lots of different, though unspecified, support for families, the best thing the government can do as far as she is concerned, is to continue along the economic path Gordon Campbell put B.C. on, so that parents can have jobs to earn the money to support their families.

She thinks the HST is a good idea but thinks the government did an atrocious job of introducing it and can understand why people are angry. She added some nuance to her proposal that MLAs should just vote on the HST and scratch the referendum.

Ms. Clark said that if it looks like the referendum is pretty much guaranteed to fail, then MLAs should save the $40 million it would cost to hold it and just quash the HST themselves in the legislature. But if there appears to be a chance the HST can win, then the referendum should go ahead.

Ms. Clark also said she that while she mostly supported what the Liebrals have done since 2001, especially during its first term when she was a part of government, she said there was one thing she regrets. No, it’s not the refusal to pay for already negotiated teacher salary increases between 2002 and 2004 that forced school boards to cut programs and services to their students. And it’s not the Ministry of Children and Family Development layoffs that devastated the ministry’s ability to help children at risk, nor is it the massive welfare cuts that kicked 90,000 people off social assistance.

“It is the cuts that they did at the Ministry of Children and Families, to a little program you may not have heard of called the roots of empathy program,” she said. “And the roots of empathy program, allows the parents of infants to come into classrooms with the infant and let all the children…in an elementary school have a chance to get to know the little baby. And it’s just the most amazing impact that it has.”

Very interesting.

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