British Columbia

Clark front-runner for B.C. Liberals: poll

Former B.C. cabinet minister Christy Clark would dramatically alter the provincial Liberal leadership race if she were to enter the competition, according to a new poll.

Former B.C. cabinet minister Christy Clark would dramatically alter the provincial Liberal leadership race if she were to enter the competition to succeed premier Gordon Campbell, according to a poll conducted for Clark's unofficial campaign team and made public Monday.

The poll suggests that Clark is the preferred candidate as B.C. Liberal leader among 40 per cent of respondents, which is 25 percentage points more than closest rival Kevin Falcon at 15 per cent.

Clark, who resigned as an MLA in 2004, said Friday she was seriously considering jumping into the race and would announce her decision sometime in early December. B.C. Health Minister Falcon is scheduled to declare his candidacy Tuesday morning.

The poll was conducted by the Gandalf Group, which surveyed 800 B.C. adults by telephone between Nov. 19 and Nov. 22.

The margin of error is plus or minus 3.46 per cent, 19 times out of 20, Gandalf said in a release.

Stilwell not included

Veteran cabinet minister George Abbott and former universities minister Moira Stilwell are the only officially declared candidates for a leadership vote to be held by the party Feb. 26. Stilwell announced her bid on Nov. 22, the final day of the survey and was not included in the poll.

When all participants were asked, "Among the following candidates to be leader of the BC Liberal Party and Premier, who would you prefer," those surveyed responded:

  • Christy Clark 40 per cent.
  • Kevin Falcon 15 per cent.
  • Mike de Jong 12 per cent.
  • Blair Lekstrom 12 per cent.
  • George Abbott 10 per cent.
  • Rich Coleman 10 per cent.

When the same question was asked of those surveyed who said they would definitely vote Liberal in the next election, Clark still maintained a sizeable lead:

  • Christy Clark 35 per cent.
  • Kevin Falcon 21 per cent.
  • Rich Coleman 13 per cent.
  • George Abbott 12 per cent.
  • Mike de Jong 10 per cent.
  • Blair Lekstrom 9 per cent.

Margin versus opposition

When asked in a provincial election where Clark was the leader of the B.C. Liberal Party, Carole James was the leader of the NDP and Jane Sterk was leader of the Green Party "which party would you vote for," respondents said:

  • Liberal 38 per cent.
  • NDP 27 per cent.
  • Green Party 17 per cent.
  • Other 6 per cent.
  • Undecided 12 per cent.

The same question was asked with the five other contenders or possible contenders leading the Liberals and showed Clark to provide the widest margin between those who would vote for the Liberals and those who preferred the opposition NDP.

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