Clark rallies Liberal party ahead of 2017 election

B.C. Premier Christy Clark delivers the keynote address at the B.C. Liberals convention in Vancouver Sunday, Nov. 6.
B.C. Premier Christy Clark delivers the keynote address at the B.C. Liberals convention in Vancouver Sunday, Nov. 6. Facebook live stream capture

British Columbia’s premier is calling on her party’s volunteers and supporters to come together ahead of what she promises will be a very difficult election next spring.

Christy Clark spoke at the B.C. Liberal party’s convention Sunday in Vancouver, saying members need to prove to the province that the party is one residents can believe in.

“We are going to have to fight to succeed in 2017 like we have never fought before,” she said. “And we are going to make sure that we earn every single vote that’s out there. We’re going to have to work our hearts out.”

The government has had many successes in recent years, the premier said, including balanced budgets, job creation and funding social programs, such as those for single moms and kids looking to be adopted.

Running a surplus has given the government an opportunity to invest in people, Clark said.

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The B.C. government has also come under fire during its mandate for several issues, including possible conflicts of interest, the handling of a teachers’ strike in 2014, and sky-rocketing housing costs across the province.

Clark told her supporters that opponents will criticize them leading up to the provincial election on May 9, 2017. Some of the negative comments, she said, will focus on the fact that she is not perfect.

The premier doled out criticism of her own at the convention, calling the opposition NDP a party of “quitters.”

“Those guys, they’re a party of ideologues. We’re a party of ideas. They’re a bunch of guys who want to go back into the past. We’re a party who bust forward into a bright new future,” she said.

The broad-ranging speech also criticized the federal government for a lack of spending on helping to prepare B.C. to respond to tanker spills along the West Coast.

“We have been cheated by a federal government for a long time while resources have gone to the East,” Clark said. “It is our time to make sure our coast is properly protected. And this prime minister has the chance to change it.”

Prime Minister Justin Trudeau can right the “historical wrong,” she added.

“He has the chance to change it and I believe he is going to be the one who does it,” Clark said.

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Mike Farnsworth, NDP MLA for Port Coquitlam and the Opposition House Leader, said Clark’s criticism of the federal Liberals stands in sharp contrast to her relationship with Stephen Harper’s Conservative government in the past.

“I found it a bit rich to listen to the premier criticizing a federal government, when for the last 10 years, when the Harper conservatives were in power, I don’t think this premier criticized them once,” said Farnsworth.

“In fact, this premier did everything she could to ingratiate herself to Harper. Now all of a sudden she’s talking about decades of neglect by the federal government.”

Trudeau will be in Vancouver Monday to make an announcement with Transportation Minister Marc Garneau at a navy base in Stanley Park.

There has been speculation that the announcement will be about a West Coast spill response system.

Speaking to reporters after her speech, Clark said she doesn’t know “for a fact” that Trudeau will bring in a new spill response, but said that she is hopeful.

Nor would the premier give any concrete information on what promises will be made leading up to next spring’s election. The party is currently working on the campaign budget and platform, she said.

“What I’ve heard over the last few months are some really great ideas and people will see those over the next few months,” Clark said.

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With files from Global News