NDP would create ‘smoking crater’ in budget: Clark
VANCOUVER — Christy Clark’s Liberals are ramping up attacks on the NDP’s ability to manage British Columbia’s finances, accusing the party of releasing a platform with a $6.5-billion “crater” that can only be filled with middle-class tax hikes.
The New Democrats’ platform contains expensive promises — including $10-a-day child care and eliminating tolls on two busy bridges in Metro Vancouver. But the party says a new tax on housing speculators and raising taxes on wealthy individuals and corporations will help balance the budget.
NDP finance critic Carole James dismissed the Liberal accusations on Wednesday as “fearmongering.”
“Let’s remember that last election, Christy Clark literally put ‘Debt-free B.C.’ on the side of her campaign bus,” said James, referring to Clark’s promise to eliminate the debt through a liquefied natural gas industry.
“In four years since then, she’s added $11 billion to B.C.’s debt. It’s really quite incredible to see Christy Clark making these claims after her own credibility has been shredded time after time.”
Michael de Jong, the finance minister in Clark’s government, held a news conference where he said the Liberals’ analysis of the NDP platform reveals $6.5 billion in costs over four years that the party has not accounted for.
He said an NDP promise to eliminate medical services premiums would cost $1.7 billion. The Liberals have also promised to eventually kill the MSP, starting with a 50-per-cent cut next January, but de Jong said the Liberals won’t ditch the fees within the next three years.
“We’ve set an objective, but we have also said ‘This is what we can afford to do today,’” he said.
De Jong also said a freeze on BC Hydro rates would cost $1.2 billion over four years, while an ICBC rate freeze would cost $1.9 billion.
However, James said the NDP only plans to freeze hydro rates for two years. The party would roll back a 42-per-cent increase to ICBC rates but has not committed to freezing them, she said.
As for the MSP, she said the NDP would transition to a progressive tax system similar to other provinces in which higher-income earners pay more than middle or lower-income earners.
Clark, campaigning in Surrey, said B.C. is leading the country in job creation and economic growth — and the New Democrats threaten that progress.
“Their platform creates not a hole in our budget, it is a crater, a giant, smoking crater of a hole to the tune of billions of dollars that they are going to fill with your money in the form of new taxes,” she said.