Comparing herself to former B.C. premier WAC Bennett, Liberal leader Christy Clark waded into supportive territory in Kelowna Wednesday night and urged her party’s faithful here to re-elect the Central Okanagan’s three incumbent Liberal MLAs.
She praised Steve Thomson (Kelowna-Mission), Norm Letnick (Kelowna-LakeCountry and Ben Stewart (Westside-Kelowna) respectively as a minister with a complicated portfolio who can keep a multitude of interests happy, a problem solver and visionary in local business and said she welcome al three back to cabinet if the Liberals are re-elected.
Clark characterized the current election campaign as “a fight to preserve the values that built this province,” and invoked the memory of Bennett and his son Bill, another former Social Credit premier of B.C. during her rousing rally speech to the packed but small room of supporters at the Coast Capri Hotel.
Bill Bennett’s son Brad, who introduced the three local Liberal candidates prior to Clark taking to the stage—is travelling with the Liberal leader during the campaign and acting as an advisor.
In his introductory remarks Bennett called Liberal supporters a “can-do crowd,” and dubbed said the the “other guys (NDP) are a can’t-do crowd.”
He said despite provincial public opinion polls that show the NDP with a comfortable lead in this election, he believes the numbers did not reflect reality.
“What the NDP hasn’t figured out yet is the pollsters are wrong,” he said to a loud cheer.
Standing in the group of supporters behind Clark during her speech were were Kelowna Mayor Walter Gray and city Councillors Luke Stack and Maxine Dehart.
Clark said this election provides a “stark” difference between her Liberals and the NDP.
She said while the Liberals want a bigger economy, the NDP want bigger government; while the Liberals want to balance the budget, the NDP want to run deficit budgets and while the Liberals want to reduce taxes, the NDP want to raise them.
Earlier in the day, Clark visited Kelonwa Flightcraft and called it a good example of the type of private sector business that has been a success in B.C. The aerospace company, funded in Kelonwa 42 years ago, has 1000 employees across Canada, with 600 of them here in Kelonwa.
Clark said the company is providing B.C. with what it needs, good, high-paying jobs.
At the rally, Clark returned to her main campaign theme of eliminating B.C.’s debt once the provincial budget is balanced, saying it can be done by the time her 11-year-old son turns 26. But she said it won’t happen under an NDP government.
Under the Liberal governments of the last 12 years, and the two preceeding NDP government, B.C.’s debt has grown substantially.
Accusing the NDP of not trusting British Columbians and that’s why it wants “bigger government and higher taxes,” Clark accused her opponent, NDP leader Adrian Dix, of drawing up his party’s election platform on “the back of a napkin.”
“People have to stop giving Adrian Dix napkins,” she told the cheering crowd.
She said the Okanagan has fared well under successive Liberal government, citing the Bennett Bridge over Okanagan Lake, investments in local transit and roads, health care funding including an expansion of KGH and the building of a new heart centre here and secondary and post secondary education funding as just some of the areas when provincial money has been pumped into the local economy.