A day after making light of it, B.C. Liberal leader Christy Clark on Sunday stood before the TV cameras with a more serious face and admitted that driving through a red light while driving her son, Hamish, to an early-morning hockey practice in April was the wrong thing to do.
The driving infraction, detailed in a Vancouver Sun profile piece on Clark that ran Saturday, generated a wave of online condemnation over the weekend from political pundits, as well as a diplomatically worded response from one of Clark’s own Liberal candidates.
When initially asked Saturday about the incident, in which Clark accepts a challenge from Hamish to run the red, Clark told reporters: “I told him he shouldn’t do it,” before adding with a half-smile that “it was 5:10 in the morning,” according to a Global B.C. newscast.
But Clark was not smiling when asked about the incident again on Sunday at an otherwise upbeat campaign stop in North Vancouver.
“I shouldn’t have done it and I certainly shouldn’t have done it with my son in the car,” Clark said. “But you know what? I work hard to be a great parent and I’m not a perfect parent and so I shouldn’t have done it.”
Clark added that driving through red lights isn’t something she frequently does. In the newspaper story, Hamish says to his mom: “You always do that,” after Clark passes through the empty intersection.
“No,” Clark said when asked if she habitually drives through red lights as suggested by Hamish. “That’s not true.”
While diplomatic in her response, Moira Stilwell, Liberal candidate for Vancouver-Langara, made it clear that driving through a red light is not an acceptable practice. Her experience as a physician has made her all too familiar with the carnage that can result from such actions, she said.
“I don’t want people to be left with the impression that breaking the law on purpose is acceptable,” Stilwell told The Province. “Even when nothing happens. Because they call them accidents for a reason, and the consequences can be really dire.”
DIX HOLDS HIS FIRE
NDP leader Adrian Dix, the target of repeated Liberal attack ads, including one where he is chided for being caught on the SkyTrain without a ticket, stuck to his “positive politics” on Sunday and refused to engage in any name calling over the red-light incident.
Earlier in the day, Dix, who is diabetic, announced that an NDP government would extend the coverage of the province’s insulin pump program for people with “serious diabetes” aged 19 to 25, according to a statement.
CONSERVATIVES BLEED AGAIN
Meantime, two more heads have rolled in the trouble-plagued B.C. Conservative camp.
Ron Herbert, a candidate in Vancouver-West End, was fired Sunday — the fourth MLA candidate to be removed from the Conservative slate for the upcoming May 14 provincial election.
Along with Herbert, the party’s head of candidate scrutiny was let go.
“In light of last week’s revelation about two of our candidates, I ordered a full re-vetting of all BC Conservative candidates,” party leader John Cummins said in a statement.
VETTING HASN’T WORKED
The party’s vetting of candidates has been abysmal, with Jeff Sprague (North Vancouver-Lonsdale), Ian Tootill (Vancouver-False Creek), and Mischa Popoff (Boundary-Similkameen) removed in the campaign’s early days.
Now the person responsible for that misfiring aspect of the Conservative campaign is also history.
“As a result of this process the senior volunteer responsible for vetting has stepped down from that position,” continued Cummins. “These are never easy situations for a campaign, but I believe that leaders must act proactively.”
The NDP have also lost one candidate — Dayleen Van Ryswyk in Kelowna-Mission.
TV DEBATE MONDAY NIGHT
Dix and Clark will square off against Cummins and Jane Sterk, leader of the B.C. Green Party, Monday night during the only televised debate of the election, from 6:30 p.m. to 8 p.m.
The leaders all participated in a radio debate last Friday.