Premier Christy Clark brought her election campaign to Kelowna Wednesday, an area she said has always been “the heart of free enterprise in B.C.”
Clark toured local aerospace company Kelowna Flighcraft before addressing an election rally later in the evening at the Coast Capri Hotel with the three Central Okanagan Liberal candidates, incumbent MLAs and cabinet ministers, Steve Thomson, Norm Letnick and Ben Stewart.
While at Flightcraft, Clark was shepherded through the sprawling plant by owner Barry LaPointe and received a close-up look at the myriad of maintenance work the company does on aircraft, including work under contract on Canadian Search and Rescue Buffalo planes for the Department of Defence.
Clark climbed aboard a Buffalo Search and Rescue plane normally stationed at Comox on Vancouver Island that is currently undergoing maintenance work at Flight Craft.
The premier said Flightcraft was an example a British Columbia business success story, having started here 42 years ago and now having 1,000 employees across the country, including 600 here at its main plant at the Kelowna airport.
“This is an example of how we can help grow the economy,” said Clark. “We need to work with the private sector to create jobs.”
LaPointe said he was proud to have Clark visit his companies operations.
He said the aerospace industry is important to British Columbia and Clark was the first premier to come an look at what his company is doing.
Clark said jobs are top of mind for British Columbians in this election, but so too is government spending and debt.
She said in the two years she has been premier, she has wrestled spending under control and despite the fact her government has added to the province’s debt, said the NDP would make it worse.
“We are about a bigger economy. The NDP is about bigger government. We want to lower taxes, the NDP want higher taxes,” said Clark.
The Liberal leader, whose party is is running second in pubic opinion polls to the Opposition NDP in this campaign, continued to attack her rival, NDP leader Adrian Dix, for not following her lead and vowing to cut spending and erase B.C.’s deficit.
She chided Dix for announcing what she said was $2.8 billion in additional spending in the first week of the campaign.
‘People here understand how stark the choice is,” said Clark. “They recognize the threat of Adrian Dix’s spending. People here have not forgotten the 1990s.”
The Liberals have been attacking the NDP in recent weeks, comparing the NDP of today to the NDP government of the 1990s that racked up a huge amount of debt by spending on services and infrastructure across B.C. But the subsequent Liberal government of Gordon Campbell continued to increase the debt and while Clark claimed she has curbed government spending during her two years in office, the debt has continued to grow under her watch as well.
When asked about that, she said if the Liberals are re-elected they will balance the budget and then work on erasing B.C. debt.
Asked about support for the three local Liberal incumbents, Clark praised their efforts in government and credited them with getting $800 million in healthcare spending for this area in the last four years as well as millions in transportation.
Praising Thomson, Letnick and Stewart as the “best problem solvers” in her government, she said she looks forward to having them back at the cabinet table if the Liberal are re-electedto government May 14.
“They have been outstanding MLAs,” said the Clark. “They have served the constituents well and they can stand on their record of achievement.”
Clark stopped in Kelowna after visits to Sicamous, Salmon Arm and Vernon earlier in the day. Today she heads back tot he Lower Mainland.