December 8, 2010 2:12 pm

Christy Clark joins race for B.C. Liberal leadership

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VANCOUVER – Christy Clark, a former deputy premier, made it official on CKNW radio this morning, telling talk show host Bill Good that she is seeking the leadership of the B.C. Liberal Party.

Clark, who two weeks ago left her job as the afternoon talk show host at CKNW, confirmed to her colleague that she is entering the race to become premier.

Her comments came just minutes before Clark launched her candidacy at Simon Fraser University’s Segal Graduate School of Business.

Clark told about 200 supporters at SFU’s Graduate Business School that "it’s time for the British Columbia’s government to be more open and responsive to the citizens of the province."

Clark, who has been out of politics for over four years, said the implementation of the HST was "fatally flawed from the outset" and had undermined the public’s trust in the B.C. Liberal government.

She said HST referendum question should be put to a free vote in the provincial legislature where she believes a majority of MLAs will vote to terminate it. "If this process is successful, it would put the HST behind us by March 31."

Clark said that such an option would end the uncertainty created by the HST more quickly than the proposal of other leadership candidates to move the HST referendum up to the spring from its scheduled date in September.

She added that she would run on a "family-first agenda", saying that "I saw the need when I was at CKNW for the province to get tuned in again to families and that’s what we are going to do again in this campaign."

Noting that the NDP is seeking new leadership, Clark said "let them look far and wide for new leadership because you won’t find much new in the New Democratic Party."

Clark said the NDP doesn’t "stand for the working man or the working women…They stand for themselves and they stand for the friends. They stand for the same old elites that they represented the last time that they were in government."

"We’re going to have to take the fight to them this time, after three terms in government we can’t let them get away with their same old message. We won’t let them hide their love of their cronies and their union movement. We won’t let them hide their love of big government.

"We won’t let them hide their hunger for the money that’s in your wallet."

Clark praised Premier Campbell, saying that "he deserves our gratitude for the incredible effort that he has put in." She said Campbell built a centre-right coalition that kept the NDP out of power, "a coalition that stayed together, a coalition that I am intent on strengthening."

Clark dealt with the question of whether she, as a federal Liberal, could appeal to federal Conservatives in the B.C.Liberal party, by saying: "Gordon Campbell never asked any one to show their federal party membership when they walked in the door…He built a modern-day coalition by including people, not by excluding them. And that’s what I would like to do for all of us."

Clark, a cabinet minister during Premier Gordon Campbell’s first term, is the first candidate who is not from Campbell’s current cabinet. The outsider faces four rivals from the last cabinet: Kevin Falcon, George Abbott, Mike de Jong and Moira Stilwell.

Clark has long been connected to the federal Liberal wing of the B.C. Liberal coalition.

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