May 5, 2017 9:22 pm
Updated: May 5, 2017 9:25 pm

Trudeau letter boosts BC Liberals as NDP tries to snatch Green votes

How does Liberal Leader Christy Clark want to make B.C. better? Our Keith Baldrey sat down for a one-on-one interview to get past the headlines and campaign slogans and find out more.

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Liberal Leader Christy Clark’s election campaign received a boost from the federal government Friday, while New Democrat Leader John Horgan is asking those thinking about going Green to vote for them to defeat the Liberals.

Clark issued a statement thanking Prime Minister Justin Trudeau for “carefully and seriously” considering her suggestion to ban or tax thermal coal coming from the United States in retaliation for a tariff on Canadian softwood, as he said in a letter.

“Banning thermal coal exports through B.C. ports stands up for forest workers and helps fight climate change,” she said in the statement. The United States announced a tariff of up to 24 per cent on Canadian softwood last week.

Horgan campaigned on southern Vancouver Island Friday, an area where Green party officials say they have a chance of winning.

He said the New Democrats have much in common with the Greens.

“All of our common interests will be lost if we have four more years of Christy Clark,” he told supporters at a campaign stop in Nanaimo.

READ MORE: Canada threatens trade penalties if U.S. adds softwood lumber tariffs

Horgan said the Greens and NDP support reforms to the electoral system, reduction of greenhouse gases and are opposed to the Kinder Morgan pipeline expansion.

Minutes after Horgan’s plea, Green party Leader Andrew Weaver arrived outside of the venue where Horgan spoke. He said Horgan’s request smacked of voter suppression.

“I’m trying to inspire voters,” said Weaver, who was on his way to campaign events on the Sunshine Coast.

NDP Leader John Horgan greets supporters during a campaign stop in Nanaimo, B.C., on Friday May 5, 2017. A provincial election will be held on Tuesday.

THE CANADIAN PRESS/Darryl Dyck

Clark spent the first part of day defending a little-known tax rebate program meant to attract international business to British Columbia that allowed TD Bank to claim a $2.8-million refund.

Her government had challenged the company’s claim for a refund in court because TD filed its paperwork a day late. The Court of Appeal ruled last month that B.C. must reconsider the bank’s request for a time extension to claim the refund.

Clark said on Friday the International Business Activity Act has created more revenue than it has cost and it’s aimed at luring companies to B.C.

READ MORE: B.C. Election: Christy Clark accepts her haters

“The evidence tells us it’s helping create jobs in British Columbia,” she said. “The evidence tells us that it’s been a good investment. We need to grow those programs … that are aimed at attracting head offices from around the world to Vancouver.”

The program came under scrutiny this week after a story was published by the New York Times saying it created fewer than 300 jobs while giving $140 million in refunds since 2008.

However, the Liberal party said a study by the government found the program created 1,140 jobs between 2004 and 2007.

Green Party Leader Andrew Weaver gets out of a vehicle to stop to talk to reporters outside a campaign stop by NDP Leader John Horgan in Nanaimo, B.C., on Friday May 5, 2017. A provincial election will be held on Tuesday.

THE CANADIAN PRESS/Darryl Dyck

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The NDP said in a statement that residents deserve answers about a program that allows unnamed corporations to receive an unknown amount of taxpayer money with no discernible benefits for B.C.

The program was created in 1988 during the former Social Credit government, and Horgan said that it was a modest program under the former Social Credit and New Democrat governments.

Since then, he said the Liberals have increased funding of the program by 1,000 per cent.

“This is a program that is giving corporate welfare to one of the most profitable banks in the country. We’ve asked the auditor general to get to the bottom of this.”

Clark, who also campaigned on Vancouver Island on Friday, said the program was always aimed towards companies that are going to create jobs in B.C.

“I guess the folks in Finance decided that (TD Bank) met that goal,” she said.

© 2017 The Canadian Press

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