NEWS
04/26/2017 18:31 EDT | Updated 04/26/2017 18:41 EDT

Housing, economy, leadership feature in final B.C. election debate

VICTORIA — British Columbia Premier Christy Clark is defending the time it took her government to cool Vancouver's scorching housing market, telling voters watching a TV debate the Liberals wanted to make sure they didn't wipe out the equity people have built in their homes by acting rashly.

But Clark says measures the government took, including a 15 per cent tax on foreign buyers in Metro Vancouver, have worked by slowing rising house prices.

British Columbia's May 9 election campaign passed a pivotal moment Wednesday night as the three party leaders participated in the final debate, outlining their differences on housing, the economy and leadership.

NDP Leader John Horgan accused the Liberals of waiting too long to come to the aid of families trying to put a roof over their heads, while Green Leader Andrew Weaver said the government's policies have turned housing into an investment vehicle.

The leaders debated for the first time last week on radio, which was largely remembered for a testy exchange after Clark touched Horgan on the arm and told him to calm down, causing the NDP leader to ask his Liberal counterpart not to touch him again.

The debate on Wednesday featured more three way clashes, but the moderator asked Horgan directly about his temperament, asking if he has anger-management issue.

Horgan says he gets angry when he sees government inaction on a range of issues.   

The campaign has defined distinct choices for voters from the three parties.

The Liberals are trying to maintain a 16-year grip on power with a platform that would cost $157 million in new spending over three years. Clark is promising a personal income tax freeze, a small business tax cut and four more balanced budgets, building on a string of surpluses in the last five years.

The Liberals have run a largely stay-the-course campaign so far, highlighting their stewardship of Canada's top-performing economy.

Horgan is running on the slogan "It's time for a government that works for you," a swipe at the Liberals over political donations from corporations and wealthy individuals. Clark has fired back on Horgan on political donations after it emerged some of the NDP's senior campaign staff were being paid by the United Steelworkers Union.

Horgan also supports a daycare program that would cost $10 a day, a significant increase in the minimum wage to $15 an hour, and the elimination of medical services premiums, something the Liberals have promised to halve, starting in January.

Weaver is promising to double the tax on foreign home buyers and extend it across the province, while also providing free daycare for working parents who have children under the age of three.