OAK BAY, B.C. - As the leaders of B.C.'s four main parties prepare for a televised debate Monday night, Premier Christy Clark spent part of Saturday visiting a suburban Victoria family in Oak Bay, talking taxes and jobs.
Clark spent about an hour at a dining room table with Tony and Louise McGee, and joked about art projects and favourite singers with the McGees' two daughters, Ella and Tessa.
The McGees' home is located in the Oak Bay-Gordon Head riding, currently held by Ida Chong, the aboriginal relations and reconciliation minister.
Chong is believed to represent one of the few opportunities the Liberals have to hold on to at least one of the 13 available seats on Vancouver Island, but she's facing strong challenges from the New Democrats and Green candidate Andrew Weaver, a well-known environmental scientist.
"So, where are you guys at with taxes this year?" said Clark as she and the McGee family sat around a table.
Clark said low taxes allow families to do more with their own money. She boasted that the Liberals have cut personal income taxes for a two-income family of four earning $90,000 by more than 40 per cent, which adds up to more than $3,000.
"What would you do if you had $3,000 less?" Clark said.
"We'd have to cut out a couple of things," said Tony McGee, adding his daughters play soccer, field hockey and take dance lessons.
At a news conference in the McGee backyard, Clark said she will keep pushing her message —that controlling spending and growing the economy helps B.C. families— in the May 14 election campaign.
Meanwhile on Saturday, the NDP released a new TV ad, highlighting new bonus programs that leader Adrian Dix says would help B.C. families by addressing child poverty and income inequality.
Clark said the differences between her and Dix is "one of us stands for lower taxes, and the only way to make sure we are looking after families like Tony and Louise is to make sure we keep taxes low, and to make sure we can pay for the things that really matter. You don't get that by growing government."
Bruce Ralston, a New Democrat incumbent for Surrey-Whalley, called Clark's claims of lowering costs for B.C. families "a bit rich."
"The B.C. Liberals brought in the HST, which was a tax on middle class families all across the province," he said on Saturday.
Ralston also said MSP premiums and BC Hydro rates have gone up significantly under the Liberal government.
Clark said she will continue to highlight her governing vision during Monday's televised leaders debate.
"Do we want to grow the economy and keep taxes low, or do we believe in big government, big taxes and big debt for our kids?" she said.
Clark said the spending programs outlined by Dix and the NDP during the campaign are "just going to drive this province into the ditch again."
Ralston defended Dix's platform, which includes spending $2 billion over three years on welfare, education and health-care reforms, and a potential three-year budget deficit.
"We think that the (current) budget is not in fact balanced, what [the Liberals] are saying is false," he said. "In order to get rid of that deficit, it would take a few years. Our plan is costed and we've identified a revenue source for all the spending that we're making, so the only deficit that we would run would be the real Liberal deficit that, if we win, we would inherit."
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