VANCOUVER - The B.C. Conservative Party was first out of the gate in launching its election platform Thursday, a document long on philosophy and short on promises that the party said was "intentionally incomplete."
The document, released just under eight weeks until voters go to the polls, addresses issues ranging from balanced budgets to reinvigorating northern B.C.
"It's been said that an election campaign is not the appropriate time to discuss serious issues," party leader John Cummins said in a news release.
"We respectfully disagree. We believe that British Columbians are anxious to participate in a full and open debate about the opportunities, challenges and issues facing our province today, and that the up-coming campaign is the perfect time to have that debate."
Among the hard promises outlined in the platform is a pledge that a Conservative government will abolish the Carbon Tax, calling the levy unfair to those living outside Victoria or Metro Vancouver.
It notes that while the tax was designed to change citizens' consumption patterns, people living in the North and also those working in certain sectors, such a grain-growers and ranchers, are unable to alter or modify their needs.
Another pledge is that the party would reverse the decline in spending on the justice system and law enforcement. The document says B.C. is "less safe" and notes spending is a half-billion dollars lower than a decade ago, had spending levels remained comparable.
The platform also suggests the party will promote policies to reinvigorate population growth and economic development in the north.
Cummins said that if elected, the Tories would create a new office to pass judgement on the fairness and accuracy of the provincial budget and track the spending of Crown corporations, hospitals and universities.
He also promised to overhaul the legislative calendar so MLAs have more time each fall to quiz senior officials about government and Crown corporation expenditures.
"It is our intention to demonstrate that the BC Conservatives are serious about campaigning on substantive issues," Cummins said.
Further specific policy proposals will be announced in the lead up to the May 14 election, he added.
Earlier this month, Cummins released a five-year fiscal plan in an unofficial campaign kick-off. While the party didn't release specifics of planned expenditures, it showed targeted creation of modest surpluses through smarter spending.
Cummins said a Conservative government would balance the budget without raising taxes.
Both the governing B.C. Liberals and New Democrats launched their unofficial campaigns last month, but neither has presented a run-down of policies they intend to implement if elected.
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