NDP would cre­ate ‘smok­ing crater’ in bud­get: Clark

The Daily Courier - - FRONT PAGE - By The Cana­dian Press

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.

Clark

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