Fresh after ruling out an election in the fall, Premier Christy Clark returned to her message of jobs Thursday in east Maple Ridge.
“We are focused, like a laser beam, on how we can defend B.C. jobs for families,” she said at an end-of-summer barbecue at former Maple Ridge mayor Gordy Robson’s Heather Hills Golf Course.
With the international uncertainty remaining, the government is concerned about the impact on the economy, Clark said.
“We have to make special attention as to how we can insulate British Columbia from that.”
Clark said she’s been working on the “jobs plan” for months and will launch it in September with further details in the Throne Speech in October.
The Liberal leader was going to meet later with Maple Ridge and Pitt Meadows mayors and local businesses.
“We are really well-positioned to get a foothold. We have an incredible opportunity to make ourselves a big part of the Asian and Indian markets.”
She also defended the 18-month transition period back to the PST/GST system, saying no province has ever reversed back to that tax, while during its introduction in 2010, the government was following Ontario’s example.
“There’s no question that the transition from the HST some bumps in it.
“We hope we can do it sooner, but the thing is, it isn’t a small task to unwind the HST and bring back the PST.”
Clark cancelled speculation of a fall election on Wednesday, when in a series of selective announcements to media, she gave May 2013, the fixed election date, as the next time B.C. heads to the polls.
The host of the function, Maple Ridge-Mission MLA Marc Dalton, liked the move. “I’m very relieved. I’m quite happy about that.”
The NDP may still be benefiting from the sympathy over the death of federal NDP leader Jack Layton, Dalton said. He added that maybe one or two people he’s talked to wanted an election.
Opposition MLA Michael Sather (Maple Ridge-Pitt Meadows) wasn’t surprised.
“It was widely expected. I couldn’t see her calling an election after losing the HST vote.”
He liked that Clark gave a specific date rather than leaving it open. “This is a better result, I think. So it will be good to get a bit of break.”
Sather, though, wanted to know how the government would move on corporate tax rates, saying he was looking for a break in the trend of shifting taxes from corporations to consumers.
And he expected the government to rein in its spending. “Clearly, we won’t see the type of spending they indulged in, in the last three years.
“The best decision they made was to put off this decision off to 2013,” added Maple Ridge Coun. and Liberal Mike Morden.
He called the defeat of the HST in the summer referendum “a mini-election on the HST” and it gave a clear indication of how people felt, he added.
Pitt Meadows Coun. Gwen O’Connell, wearing an “I’m with Marc” button agreed. “This isn’t the time. People are really busy with municipal elections coming up. We all need some time to breathe.”
Abbotsford-Mission Liberal MLA Randy Hawes wasn’t concerned about the growth of the B.C. Conservative party, adding that a vote for the Conservatives is a vote for the NDP, which would be the only way the New Democrats could win an election.
Sather, however, isn’t impressed with the premier’s performance so far after being named Liberal leader last February.
“The performance of the premier has really dragged the party down, flip-flopping all over the place. Quite astonishing.”
Hawes said it shouldn’t be surprising Clark would be criticized.
“She’s a new leader and she’s going to be pursued by the media and opposition.”
But the strength of the Liberal party never has been its leader, but as a political coalition, he added.
“That strength remains.”
Clark called the recent departures of former Attorney General Barry Penner and Port Moody MLA Iain Black, “the natural course of politics.
“I don’t think people want politicians who are going to hang around forever anyways.”