B.C. party leaders jockey for position in televised debate
Economy, deficit, environment dominate election debate
B.C.'s four major party leaders squared off in the only televised leaders' debate of the provincial election campaign Monday night, each vying for votes in the quest to become the province's next premier.
The debate, heated at times but mostly civil, was dominated by familiar themes: balancing the budget; the environment; and the economy.
B.C. Liberal Leader Christy Clark was put on the defensive early in the debate about her choice to run a red light with her son and a newspaper reporter in the car. She apologized again, admitting she made a mistake by treating the light as four-way stop.
"There is no other answer for the people of British Columbia other than to say that it was wrong. I was wrong to do it," she said.
"And I strive, as a parent, to set a great example for my son and I didn't.… It doesn't matter what time of day it was. I shouldn't have done it."
Clark went on to tout her party's position on balancing the budget, paying down the provincial debt and growing the economy — sticking to the script she has been following throughout the election campaign.
"We have balanced our budget and we are putting British Columbia on a path to being debt-free."
Clark once again referenced the NDP's $3-billion platform — another familiar refrain tackled by the CBC Reality Check team last week.
Clark then turned to NDP Leader Adrian Dix, calling into question his party's position on natural resource projects.
"What the premier's saying is not true, and the premier knows it," he responded.
"This is their campaign. They're on the attack all the time. I support liquefied natural gas. I support the skills training that we will need to build liquefied natural gas, to ensure that young people and everyone across British Columbia can benefit through jobs from that project."
The two leaders also sparred on the province's child poverty record, its credit rating and job creation.
Conservatives are 'pro-environment'
B.C. Conservative Leader John Cummins was questioned about the four candidates dropped by his party since the campaign began two weeks ago. He said ups and downs are to be expected, but the party's vetting process is "second to none in this province."
Cummins went on to call the carbon tax a "total failure," and didn't really answer when asked directly if he believes in climate change.
"When it comes to the environment, we're certainly pro-environment," he said.
"I'm probably the only one at this table here who has earned a living that relied on the environment. I was a commercial fisherman for over 30 years. I know that you have to protect the environment if you're going to be catching fish. That's just the way it is, so we're certainly very protective of the environment."
Green Party Leader Jane Sterk said her party wants to keep the carbon tax and get greenhouse gas emissions under control, but dismissed suggestions the party's sole focus is the environment.
"The Green Party has never been a one-issue party. If you look at our policy, which is always available for people to explore, we have great policy on the environment, on the economy, on our social services and, more than any other party, on democratic reform," she said.
"The Green Party believes that we must be accountable to the people of British Columbia."
British Columbians head to the polls on May 14.