British Columbia

And they're off: B.C. political parties begin election race to May 9 finish

British Columbia's Liberal party began its bid for a fifth straight majority government today as Premier Christy Clark visited the lieutenant-governor to formally dissolve the legislature.

B.C. Liberals look for a 5th straight majority, with the NDP and Green Party looking to upend the status quo

Premier Christy Clark addresses reporters on Apr. 11, 2017, following a visit to the lieutenant-governor to formally dissolve the legislature. (Richard Zussman/CBC)

VICTORIA — British Columbia's Liberal party began its bid for a fifth straight majority government on Tuesday as Premier Christy Clark visited the lieutenant-governor to formally dissolve the legislature.

The campaign has been underway unofficially for weeks with the Liberals, NDP and Greens releasing platform details for an election that polls suggest will be a tight battle.

Clark has tried to make NDP Leader John Horgan's judgment an issue, accusing the New Democrats of siding with fringe advocates over the mainstream interests that drive job creation in a province that has led the country in economic growth.

Horgan has attacked Clark on social policies, arguing too many people have been left behind by a Liberal government that is out-of-touch after 16 years in power as he promotes a daycare program that would cost $10 a day and a significant increase in the minimum wage to $15 an hour.

Green Leader Andrew Weaver, the first member of his party to win a seat in a provincial legislature, is asking voters who are tired of the status quo to give his party a chance, promising a revamped economic plan that encourages growth in emerging business sectors while protecting the environment.

Economic issues at top of platforms

Job creation has been an early theme in the unofficial campaign for the May 9 vote.

At dissolution, the Liberals held 47 seats in the legislature, the NDP 35, and there were three Independents, which includes Weaver. There are two new ridings this election, bringing the total to 87 seats.

Clark unveiled her party's platform on Monday, promising to freeze income taxes, deliver balance budgets and create jobs in the technology and resource sectors.

She emerged from her meeting with the lieutenant-governor to tout her government's record of balancing the books and lowering taxes to support families and the middle-class.

"B.C. is just getting started," she said.

Voting for the NDP or the Green party would mean higher taxes that would kill jobs, Clark said.

"We don't want to throw this all away."

Horgan has also offered voters a peek at his platform, saying his party will create jobs in every corner of the province by making public investments to attract more private-sector investment.

Is this the year for the Greens?

From the base of his single seat on Vancouver Island, Weaver is pushing for a breakthrough for his party by setting out a Green vision that offers free daycare for children up to the age of three, tougher greenhouse gas emission standards and more money for public education.

Weaver campaigned Tuesday in Vancouver's Olympic Village on his party's housing policy that he says aims to cool the overheated real estate market by, among other things, improving the supply of homes through capital spending to build about 4,000 new units a year.

This election comes down to whether voters want change from what the Liberals and NDP have traditionally offered, said Weaver.

"People are ready for politics to be done differently," he added.

Weaver said voters have produced surprises with the election of U.S. President Donald Trump and Britain's decision to leave the European Union as he dismissed the NDP and the Liberals.

"Why do you need more than two NDP MLAs? They all vote the same," he said.

As for the Liberal platform, he said it's "so void of ideas, it's staggering."