Testy mo­ments fea­ture in 1st lead­ers’ de­bate

NDP Leader ac­cuses pre­mier of ‘mak­ing stuff up’ when things get tough

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

VAN­COU­VER — It wasn’t long be­fore Lib­eral Leader Christy Clark put her hand on the arm of her main ri­val, John Hor­gan, and told him to calm down dur­ing Thurs­day’s first de­bate of the B.C. elec­tion cam­paign. The New Demo­crat leader’s icy re­sponse: “Don’t touch me again, please.”

The ex­change cap­tured the some­times chippy tone of the 90-minute live de­bate as Hor­gan in­ter­rupted and spoke over Clark ev­ery time she picked apart the NDP plat­form. It was a de­par­ture from the pos­i­tive, take-the-high-road ap­proach adopted by Hor­gan’s pre­de­ces­sor in the last elec­tion, which the New Democrats lost de­spite a large lead in the polls at the cam­paign’s out­set.

A more re­strained and smil­ing Clark stuck to a sim­i­lar re­frain by em­pha­siz­ing her party’s jobs-first plat­form and warn­ing that the health of the pro­vin­cial econ­omy would be jeop­ar­dized un­der the lead­er­ship of an­other party.

“In these last four years Bri­tish Columbia’s re­ally gone on a roll,” Clark told lis­ten­ers of News 1130 in Van­cou­ver, which also livestreamed the de­bate on­line and broad­cast it on City tele­vi­sion. “We’re just get­ting started and we don’t want to end that.”

Hor­gan ac­cused the Lib­eral leader of gov­ern­ing in the in­ter­est of cor­po­ra­tions, high earn­ers and those “in the first-class lounge.” He also said she is falsely claim­ing the NDP hasn’t ac­counted for how it will pay for its plat­form prom­ises.

“When­ever she gets in the cor­ner, she makes stuff up. This is why Bri­tish Columbians have no con­fi­dence in the B.C. Lib­er­als,” Hor­gan said.

“Mr. Hor­gan, we didn’t make up five bal­anced bud­gets,” Clark replied.

Hor­gan said the NDP plat­form is based on the fi­nan­cial fig­ures in the gov­ern­ment’s spring bud­get.

The Lib­er­als have said the New Democrats’ plan is too costly. The NDP is promis­ing to bring in $10-a-day child care and elim­i­nate 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.

Clark chided the NDP’s in­ten­tion to roll out its af­ford­able child-care pro­gram over 10 years.

“You’re not go­ing to de­liver it un­til most kids have their driver’s li­cences,” she said.

An­drew Weaver of the B.C. Green party re­sorted to hold­ing up his hand to get the at­ten­tion of the mod­er­a­tor, and when he did it was mostly to crit­i­cize Clark’s record.

“We’ve had 16 years of mean-spir­ited poli­cies that have put cor­po­rate donors and those who have ahead of those who do not have,” Weaver said when asked about hous­ing costs.

Weaver con­demned the Lib­er­als for push­ing for­ward with Site C, a hy­dro­elec­tric megapro­ject in north­east B.C., as well as the gov­ern­ment’s prom­ise of rev­enue from the liq­ue­fied nat­u­ral gas in­dus­try, which has yet to de­velop. “Try­ing to squeeze wa­ter from a stone doesn’t work, even if you squeeze it harder. And that is the Lib­eral ap­proach,” he said.

The next de­bate in the May 9 elec­tion is Wed­nes­day night.

Weaver de­scribed the con­fronta­tions in Thurs­day’s de­bate be­tween Clark and Hor­gan as petty, say­ing af­ter­wards the peo­ple of Bri­tish Columbia de­serve bet­ter. Clark ac­cused her op­po­nents of sup­port­ing poli­cies that would bring B.C. back the eco­nomic stag­na­tion of the 1990s, when the

We’ve had 16 years of mean-spir­ited poli­cies that have put cor­po­rate donors and those who have ahead of those who do not have. B.C. Green Party Leader

An­drew Weaver

New Democrats were in power.

Asked about Clark touch­ing his arm af­ter the de­bate, Hor­gan sug­gested there is a dou­ble-stan­dard.

“What would the re­sponse have been if I had laid my hand on the pre­mier?” Hor­gan re­sponded. “That’s all I’ve got to say about that.”

Clark later said she didn’t mean to of­fend Hor­gan, de­scrib­ing him as a col­league.

“I’m a lit­tle bit sur­prised he took it that way,” Clark said. “It cer­tainly wasn’t how it was in­tended.”

The Cana­dian Press

B.C. NDP leader John Hor­gan, left, Lib­eral Leader Christy Clark and B.C. Green Party leader An­drew Weaver pose for a photo fol­low­ing the lead­ers’ de­bate in Van­cou­ver on Thurs­day.

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