POLITICS

B.C.'s Christy Clark uses TV address to introduce herself to grumpy voters

04/14/2013 04:00 EDT | Updated 06/13/2013 05:12 EDT
VICTORIA - After months of abysmal personal polling numbers, B.C. Liberal Premier Christy Clark attempted to use a party-paid television address to showcase her humour and commitment to the province as she unveils her party's platform Monday before heading into an election campaign that will be the toughest fight of her political life.

Clark has been warning British Columbians for two years since she became leader that an NDP government would send the province back into an economic dungeon, but the message hasn't been resonating with voters who, in a recent survey, put her popularity tied at the bottom of the Canadian heap with Newfoundland's premier.

In the television address Sunday evening, Clark relayed an amusing anecdote about opening a rodeo in Williams Lake as premier, only to be terror-stricken at being stuck atop a horse that bolted to join other racing horses after her address.

"I'm standing there on the horse and I'm kind of waving to everybody and then all these other horses start galloping out," she said in a kitchen-table discussion with some voters.

"So my horse turns around — I hadn't been on a horse in 15 years — and he starts galloping out. And he just went around, oh my God, it was the scariest moment I've had since I became premier. Seriously, I sit in the legislature and I hear those guys yak, yak, yak, and yell and me and I just keep thinking, 'You're not as scary as that horse.'"

She also told viewers a bit about her childhood, her cramped household and her parents — a history of living within means that she said inspired her to ensure B.C. steers clear of deficit budgets.

The NDP's record was frequently under attack in the address, but Clark did not offer any specifics about what her government would do should the party be elected to a fourth term.

The address spent time reminding British Columbians about what the Liberals have often referred to as the "dismal decade," referencing the flight of jobs and B.C.'s plunge into have-not status among Canada's provinces when the NDP was in power between 1991 to 2001.

Former federal Conservative cabinet Stockwell Day, a longtime supporter of the B.C. Liberals who Clark has often used to cement her credentials with her party's right wing, noted he was provincial treasurer of Alberta the last time the B.C. NDP was in power.

"I got to see first hand the result of NDP economic policy. It resulted in runaway spending, higher deficits, more debt and then a big increase in taxes to try and pay for it all. That meant investment left B.C., that meant jobs, opportunities and workers left B.C."

Clark also used the address to tout her plan to develop B.C.'s wealth of natural gas.

"The responsible development of our resources is absolutely essential to keeping B.C.'s economy stable and growing. The resource economy is at the heart of many of our communities. It's the thing that helps our small businesses thrive. That's why we need to find ways to get to yes, to encourage ideas that lead to billions of dollars in investments, ideas that help create jobs, ideas that grow our economy."

The address accused the NDP of having a quixotic approach to natural gas, saying although Dix has said he supports it, some of his cabinet ministers have been less definite.

The NDP was not immediately available for comment on the television address.

British Columbians go to the polls May 14 in a campaign that doesn't officially start until Tuesday, but both parties have been furiously vying for votes in the last several days, with Dix promising Sunday an NDP government would ban unions and corporations from making political donations.