British Columbia

B.C. Liberal Leader Christy Clark

Christy Clark is B.C.'s second female premier and the longest serving.
Christy Clark was sworn in as premier in March 2011 after winning the B.C. Liberal Party. (Canadian Press)

Christy Clark is B.C.’s second female premier and the longest serving.

The 47-year-old former MLA was sworn in as premier in March 2011 after winning the B.C. Liberal Party leadership the previous month.

Clark replaced former leader and premier Gordon Campbell, who stepped down amidst widespread criticism over the party’s handling of the introduction of the controversial Harmonized Sales Tax.

Clark, who billed herself as a Liberal Party outsider, won the party's leadership contest by beating three former cabinet ministers.

MLA Harry Bloy was the only sitting member of the Liberal Party caucus to endorse her candidacy for leadership. She won the leadership race on the third ballot with 52 per cent of the vote compared to former health minister Kevin Falcon’s 48 per cent.

"My top priority will be to put families first," she said after winning the race.

"In British Columbia we are blessed with families of all shapes and sizes, families as diverse as our great province. This is the foundation of our communities. This is the building block of our future."

Radio talk show host, columnist

Born in Burnaby, B.C., Clark went on to study history and politics at Simon Fraser University, the University of Edinburgh, and at the Université de la Sorbonne in Paris, though she did not graduate.

Clark was first elected to the B.C. legislature in 1996 in the Port Moody-Burnaby Mountain riding, during which time she served as the Opposition critic for the environment, children and families, and public service.

She worked as the campaign co-chair for the B.C. Liberals in 2001, when the party made a stunning comeback and secured 77 of 79 seats in the legislature. She was later appointed minister of education and deputy premier.

But then in 2004 Clark announced she was quitting provincial politics to spend more time with her young son Hamish.

Then the following year, she sought the nomination of the Non-Partisan Association to run for mayor of Vancouver, only to lose to Sam Sullivan by 69 votes.

She went on to host a radio talk show, and worked as a newspaper columnist and television commentator.

Families first

When Clark was sworn in as premier in 2011, she did not hold a seat in the B.C. legislature. She went on to win in Campbell’s Vancouver-Point Grey riding, defeating NDP candidate David Eby — the first time a governing party won a by-election in decades.

Since being sworn in as B.C.’s 35th premier, Clark has pushed her 'families first' agenda, rolling out changes to the province’s welfare program and creating a Family Day holiday in February.

Clark also promised to balance the province’s budget and unite the B.C. Liberal Party.

The party saw a brief upswing in support and opinion polls following Clark’s swearing in, but soon dropped behind the NDP once again.

Clark and the Liberals have a tough job heading into the election as several high-profile MLAs — including George Abbott, Mary McNeil, Kevin Falcon and Kevin Krueger — announced they wouldn’t seek reelection in 2013.