B.C. Liberal leader and Kelowna-West candidate Christy Clark had a message for U.S. President Donald Trump when it comes to any future fight over trade with Canada, specifically as it pertains to B.C products like softwood lumber and B.C wines.
“I say to Donald Trump, bring it on,” said a defiant Clark during a stop in Lake Country Wednesday, where she vowed to fight against any attempt by the U.S. to penalize B.C. producers in a trade war.
Clark completed a two-day whirlwind tour through the Okanagan at Gray Monk Winery, reiterating her call on the Canadian government to stop the export of thermal coal from B.C. ports in retaliation for tariffs of up to 24 per cent that the U.S. has slapped on Canadian softwood lumber entering the U.S.
Earlier in the day, Clark called thermal coal—used to power coal-fired power plants in the U.S.—a “filthy pollutant.”
And she said if Ottawa won’t ban the coal exports through B.C. ports, she will go it alone by imposing export tariffs on the coal leaving this province’s ports.
When asked about U.S. concerns over the province only allowing B.C. wines to be sold in B.C. grocery stores, Clark was equally quick to defend that move by her government, part of last year’s modernizing of the province’s liquor laws.
“Everything we’ve done on trade is absolutely allowed in the (North America Free Trade) Agreement, and if he wants to have a fight about B.C. wines being sold in B.C. grocery stores, we’re ready for it,” she said.
She added she is “absolutely confident” what B.C. is doing is allowed under NAFTA.
Calling it another another example of how rising U.S. protectionism can threaten thousands of jobs in B.C., the Liberal leader vowed she will fight for B.C. workers.
And she blasted her NDP and B.C. Green Party counterparts for what she described as an inability and an unwillingness, respectively, to do the same.
“The NDP won’t and the Greens can’t,” said Clark.
Earlier in the day, during a Kelowna-West all-candidates debate on Kelowna radio station AM1150, her NDP challenger in the riding, Shelley Cook, accused Clark of only acting when an election is looming.
She said between elections, Clark’s government has done little to fight for B.C. workers, saying 35,000 jobs in the forest sector have been lost under the Liberals and many mills have closed.
She said it’s her party’s leader, John Horgan, not Clark, who will fight for B.C. jobs.
During the debate, and then again at the winery, Clark accused Horgan of having a “sneaky” plan to raise taxes on the middle class increasing personal incomes taxes on those earning $60,000 or more per year.
She said unlike the NDP and the Greens, her party will not raise personal income taxes, will not raise the province’s carbon tax or increase the province’s debt.
But Cook accused Clark of “making things up,” telling voters “we can’t afford four more years of Christy Clark.”
Speaking at the winery, Clark was asked about a second crossing of Okanagan Lake, something her three challengers in the riding are opposed to. Clark said it’s too early to say if there will be a toll on a second bridge over the lake because no decision has been made to build one yet and the cost, if one is to be built, has not been established.