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Christy Clark gets warm welcome from Kelowna audience
If there was any doubt about premier Christy Clark's popularity in Kelowna, her appearance in front of the Chamber of Commerce audience put it to rest.
A Thursday afternoon speech that pumped up the attributes of her "prudent" government and their recent budget, was repeatedly interrupted with cheers and applause from the business-minded crowd.
As it concluded and Clark stepped off the podium, bellows of support and the uncommon sight of a 300-plus person standing ovation followed.
It's not that there's been much doubt over the strength of the party in this region.
The provincial Liberals and their ilk have locked down Okanagan for ages, regardless of their standing elsewhere in the province.
And Clark 's values line up perfectly with those engaged in an economy largely reliant on small business, which was clear when she called Kelowna "the heart of free enterprise."
"When my government has a choice between lowering taxes and increasing spending, we are going to lower taxes," she said to applause.
"I will not raise taxes on families to fund pay hikes for public sector unions."
Clark's presentation also highlighted tax breaks in the new budget, including a a children's fitness and tax credit of up to $500 per child annually. It was set to complement a similar federal tax credit.
She also made references to concerns about the shrinking middle class, most loudly voiced by those in the global Occupy movement.
"You don't grow the middle class by pitching a tent," she said.
It's done by enabling the private sector to create jobs, she said, and by keeping taxes low.
Clark pointed out that governments, in Greece, Britain and US drove up debt, spent bucket-loads and raised taxes just as the NDP did in B.C. the '90s, and the result for all was the same — financial chaos.
"We're not putting mountains of debt on our children and grandchildren to pay back," she said.
She ended by pointing out that her family-first mantra stands, and that family is the most important institution in the country.