The leaders of the two most popular parties in the province stopped by Chilliwack on Wednesday to back their local candidates, expand on their election platforms, and throw stones at each other.
Liberal leader Christy Clark toured Langley Concrete in Chilliwack that morning.
“Langley Concrete is helping drive economic growth in Chilliwack – that means growth for the whole province,” she said.
The B.C. Liberals platform is meant to accelerate the existing B.C. Jobs Plan. Included within is a 40 per cent tax reduction to small businesses.
While Clark wanted to give business owners tax breaks, NDP leader Adrian Dix focused on supplying them with enough skilled labour during his same day tour of the University of the Fraser Valley’s Trades and Technology centre. The visit came just after announcing that an NDP government would invest $40 million in skills training and $100 million into student grants annually.
“If we fail to act, the growing skills shortage facing BC will hamstring our economy and hurt the private sector’s ability to increase productivity and create jobs,” said Dix. “And the inequality that plagues B.C. – already the worst in Canada – will only get worse… I’ve met with hundreds of business people in the past two years and the consistent message I hear is that they cannot find the skilled workers they need to take advantage of opportunities to grow,” he continued.
Dix called B.C.’s skills shortage a “major impediment.”
Both parties have focussed their campaigns on chipping away at each other’s platforms. The NDP has argued that the Liberal budget cuts funding to post-secondary education, even though the vast majority of new jobs require a certificate or degree. The Liberals, meanwhile, maintain that the NDP’s “reckless spending” will drive the province’s economy into the ground.
Dix also lambasted the Liberals for spending on partisan ads. When questioned by a reporter on Wednesday whether the Liberals’ latest $100,000 television ad, and others like it, are partisan, Clark gave a terse “no they weren’t” reply.
The NDP argue that in the three years that Clark has been in power, the provincial debt load has increased and the province experienced the second worse job growth in Canada.
The B.C. Liberals have founded their campaign on the promise that B.C. will be “debt-free” within 15 years. The only way to achieve this, according to them, is that by exporting liquified natural gas.
“A debt-free B.C., and liquified natural gas, go hand in hand. LNG is a trillion dollars in new economic growth over 30 years,” Clark said. “It’s a once in a lifetime opportunity, but we need to seize it.”
When questioned by The Progress on how a Liberal government will ensure that the developments that go along with large scale LNG export don’t damage the environment at home, Clark spoke about cleaning up Asia’s air.
“This is a spectacular place. Just look around at the beauty of this environment here,” said Clark referring to Chilliwack. “The thing about liquified natural gas, is it’s the cleanest fossil fuel on the planet. When we start exporting that to Asia, we are going to displace dirty fuels that they are using in those countries,” she said.
Building LNG plants will be local companies, which will bring jobs, she said.
Clark is calling on Dix to debate her one-on-one. Dix has so far refused, stating that it isn’t fair to hold a debate between only two parties.
The Liberals are trying to recapture the Chilliwack-Hope riding, and keep their hold on the Chilliwack riding. But the most recent Angus Reid poll shows that, at least provincially, the NDP holds 45 per cent of the vote, while the Liberals only 28 per cent. Greens are at 13 and Conservatives at 12.
“I hope that every British Columbian takes a moment to compare our platforms, our visions, our ideas, our plans, and most of all our teams…and then make a decision about which party can best lead British Columbia into the future,” concluded Clark.firstname.lastname@example.org twitter.com/alinakonevski