This provincial election will be about jobs. Or will it?
The battle of platform positions between the different parties officially began Tuesday as the writ was dropped to start a 28-day campaign to B.C. election day on May 9.
Premier Christy Clark’s B.C. Liberals seek re-election, up against the NDP led by new leader John Horgan and a Green Party hoping to expand its legislature impact beyond its current one MLA.
“I think the issue will be the same in every riding this election. It will take on different manifestations depending on where you live but the number one issue is going to be jobs,” Clark told the Kelowna Capital News in an interview Tuesday.
“And I believe we are the only party with a legitimate plan on how to create jobs. I think that issue will resonate the same with voters in Surrey as it will voters in Sicamous.”
Clark, the incumbent MLA for the newly renamed riding of Kelowna-West, is looking to lead the B.C. Liberal party to a fifth straight majority victory.
Clark will be joined on the local campaign trail by Liberal cabinet minister and incumbent MLA candidates Norm Letnick (Kelowna-Lake Country) and Steve Thomson (Kelowna-Mission).
All three secured over 55 per cent of their riding vote in the 2013 provincial election.
Other party candidates running against Clark will be Shelley Cook (NDP) and Robert Mellalieu (Greens), while Thomson will be challenged by Harwinder Sandhu (NDP), Rainer Wilkins (Greens) and Chuck Hardy (Conservative), and up against Letnick will be Erik Oleson (NDP) and Alison Shaw (Greens).
Clark says the Liberals are running on their record of economic stewardship and cutting taxes to the middle class, with a shift of focus from 2013 and the development of a liquefied natural gas industry to the promise this time around surrounding high-tech sector growth.
The Liberal platform features modest spending of $157 million, which encompasses several new tax credits such as a home renovation tax for seniors up to $20,000, a respite care tax credit of $2,500, a car-sharing tax credit, tax credit for ferry dependent communities and a post-secondary tax credit for veterans.
The party platform also comes on the heels of the other numerous funding announcements from the new $50 billion provincial budget unveiled in March and features promises of a reduction of MSP payments, personal income tax freeze for four years, PST eliminated over next two years on hydro for businesses, resolution of class size and composition dispute with BC Teachers’ Federation, corporate tax cut from 2.5 to two per cent, first-time home buyers initiative and creation of 2,000 more daycare spaces at cost of $20 million.
For the NDP, party leader John Horgan says an election victory on May 9 will bring the promises of $10-a-day subsidized daycare, a $15/hour minimum wage hike, elimination of MSP premiums, elimination of bridge tolls in the Lower Mainland, freezing of hydro rates and changes to environmental and political donation policies.
“This campaign is about building a province that works for real people, not just the wealthy and well-connected…we’ll be travelling to communities across B.C.…talking about our plan to make life better for families,” Horgan said.
The wildcard in this election will be the Green Party, as any upsurge in its vote results will likely be at the expense of the NDP.
With party leader Andrew Weaver seeking re-election in his Oak Bay-Gordon Head riding in Victoria, the party platform advocates thus far to invest up to $750 million annually to create 4,000 units of affordable housing per year, free pre-school for three- and four-year-olds, free daycare for children up to age three with working parents, $500/month subsidy for stay-at-home parent and child up to age two, increase education funding in schools over four years from $250 million to $1.5 billion, and become a global leader in climate change action policy grounded in science.