Premier Christy Clark held her first official election campaign event of 2017 Wednesday, introducing the BC Liberal Party’s Vancouver Island team of candidates and vowing to turn around the NDP’s dominance of Island seats.
Clark featured the latest candidate, Esquimalt Mayor Barb Desjardins, who is seeking to replace retiring NDP MLA Maurine Karagianis in Esquimalt-Metchosin in the provincial election scheduled for May 9.
The event demonstrated the uphill battle facing Clark as she seeks to lead the BC Liberals to a fifth straight election victory. The only sitting Island MLA present was Don McRae, who is retiring after two terms as Comox Valley MLA to return to teaching. The party’s only other Island MLA, Social Development Minister Michelle Stilwell, is seeking re-election in Parksville-Qualicum.
With 11 of 13 Island candidates nominated, Clark said the 2017 lineup has a good chance to make gains where the NDP has long dominated.
“I think people on Vancouver Island care about jobs, they care about the economy, and I think it’s amply evident that the NDP just don’t stand for that,” Clark said. “They say they stand for workers, but they don’t stand up for work.”
Clark and the candidates convened at SendToNews, a digital media company in downtown Victoria, to work on the party’s Vancouver Island platform, which Clark said is a first for any B.C. political party.