04/13/2013 06:00 EDT | Updated 06/13/2013 05:12 EDT

BC Election 2013: Christy Clark TV Special To Set Campaign Slogan


VICTORIA - Premier Christy Clark is buying some TV time Sunday to make a scripted, 30-minute pre-election pitch to voters less than 48 hours before the official start of the British Columbia election campaign.

The buses are ready to roll for Tuesday's beginning to the campaign for the May 14 election, but Clark is giving herself a head start with an evening election address paid for by the B.C. Liberal Party. It's an effort to imprint the Liberal message hours before the official campaign kick off.

But don't wait for Clark to roll out any major new initiatives during her one-on-one chat with British Columbians, say political experts who expect Clark to highlight her personal strengths as a master communicator and her determination to wage a strong campaign portraying the Liberals as strong fiscal managers.

Liberal insiders say Clark's pre-recorded address will stress the stark choice voters face between re-electing the Liberals or voting for the New Democrats and their leader Adrian Dix.

Clark will focus on the goals of her government's jobs plan, the long-term aim of wiping out the province's debt through the resource fuelled Prosperity Fund and the Liberal commitment to balance the budget next year, said the insiders. The address will also highlight the Liberal campaign slogan: Strong Economy. Secure Tomorrow.

"That's clearly what she's trying to do is set her ballot question, with her in the role and her government in the role as a strong leader that's capable of being in the best position to manage the economy and manage the budget and create jobs," said Martyn Brown, a political commentator and author who served as a close adviser to former premier Gordon Campbell.

Brown said Clark has little to lose from taking her message to voters.

"One of her strongest skill sets is her media presence," he said. "Her strongest asset as a communicator is her interpersonal skills and her likeability. What she'll be trying to do more than anything is convince voters that they should have trust and confidence in her specifically, which they don't today.

"Her weaknesses going into this campaign are that she's perceived on every leadership measure to be vastly lower than Adrian Dix," Brown said. "She's got to tackle that fact."

Prof. James Lawson, a political scientist at the University of Victoria, said predicting what a B.C. politician will say presents difficult challenges, but he suggested he expects Clark to demonstrate her grasp of major government issues that include the budget, economy and resource development.

"It can't possibly just be marketing slogans," he said. "One way of doing this might be to really stress all the complexities around how you know that the Liberals are good fiscal managers."

On Monday, Clark told a party fundraising dinner attended by 1,800 people in Vancouver she will use Sunday's address to preview her election platform and tell voters what direction her government is heading.

According to pollsters Angus Reid, Clark is currently tied with Newfoundland and Labrador Premier Kathy Dunderdale as the least popular provincial leader in Canada.

The poll released Monday found she and her governing Liberals had an approval rating of 25 per cent in the online survey of almost 7,100 adults, down from 31 per cent just three months prior. Eight per cent of those surveyed from March 11 to March 23 were undecided on Clark and 67 per cent disapproved of her performance as premier.

The NDP's fiscal plan released this week includes raising $300 million in taxes and killed programs in their first year in office if elected next month, but deficit budgets would continue for the next three years.

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