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Glen Clark re-elected Premier of B.C. in 1996

The Story

Premier Glen Clark is reflecting on, rather than gloating about, last night's election result. The NDP was re-elected with 39 seats compared to 33 for the Liberals. But the Liberals actually got a higher share of the popular vote. Still, the result is a personal victory for Clark, says one political scientist. Only six months ago, we hear in this CBC Radio clip, most people gave the NDP no chance of winning a second term. 

Medium: Radio
Program: The World At Six
Broadcast Date: May 29, 1996
Guest(s): Ken Carty, Glen Clark, Jerry Lampert
Host: Barbara Smith
Reporter: Susan McNamee
Duration: 2:50

Did You know?

• Seat totals and percentage of the popular vote in the May 28, 1996 British Columbia election:
- New Democratic Party of B.C.: 39 seats; 39.5%
- British Columbia Liberal Party: 33 seats; 41.8%
- Reform Party of British Columbia: 2 seats; 9.3%
- Progressive Democratic Alliance: 1 seat; 5.7%
• Eleven other parties failed to win a seat.

• The Liberals managed to win the popular vote and lose the election because most of their support was centred in Vancouver, where some ridings saw Liberal landslides. In reaction to the result, Liberal leader Gordon Campbell vowed to reform the system if he was ever elected premier.

• Glen Clark had been finance minister in the Mike Harcourt government. He won an NDP leadership vote to replace Harcourt as party leader three months before the 1996 election.
• The upbeat, charismatic Clark made more than $2 billion in spending promises and rejected an immediate reduction of B.C.'s $29-billion debt. During his mandate, he was also known for fighting the federal government on several fronts. After his slim win in 1996, Clark pledged to be more flexible on both counts.

• Campbell was Vancouver mayor from 1986 to 1993. That year he was elected leader of the right-wing provincial Liberal party, replacing Gordon Wilson.
• In the 1996 campaign Wilson preached fiscal restraint and debt reduction. He warned British Columbians that voting for the upstart Reform Party of British Columbia would split the free-enterprise vote and help the NDP get re-elected.

• In an interview with CBC Radio, Vancouver Sun columnist Vaughn Palmer called the 1996 race "one of the most negative and unpleasant campaigns we've had in B.C. history." Verbal attacks between the four leaders were "textbook in vituperation and venom," he said. Much of the poison was aimed at Liberal leader Gordon Campbell, who entered the race with a 25 per cent lead in the polls.

• The Liberals launched U.S.-style television attack ads calling Clark "Glennochio." His computer-generated nose grew as a narrator recited a list of broken promises. The NDP hit back with an unflattering black-and-white portrait of Campbell and a narrator intoning: "Whose side is he on anyway?"

• While he won the election, Clark's luck didn't last. In 1999 he became the third premier in less than a decade to resign before the end of his term. He was brought down by a scandal involving a casino licence granted to a friend. He was later acquitted on criminal charges that he received free renovations from the neighbour who applied for the licence.


How the West is Won: B.C. Elections, 1952-2005 more