Newspaper article The Canadian Press

B.C. Liberal Leader Christy Clark Tries to Shore Support in Former Stronghold

Newspaper article The Canadian Press

B.C. Liberal Leader Christy Clark Tries to Shore Support in Former Stronghold

Article excerpt

B.C. Liberals shore up support

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CHILLIWACK, B.C. - B.C. Liberal Leader Christy Clark was on the road Wednesday, trying to shore up support for her trailing party in bellwether ridings and to brand this election as a choice between her jobs plan and a "tax-and-spend" NDP.

Clark said the campaign promises of her New Democrat rival Adrian Dix are already adding up.

"The NDP have just promised to spend in the last two days another billion dollars," Clark said during a campaign stop at a concrete plant in Chilliwack.

The Chilliwack-Hope riding had been a traditional Liberal stronghold, but the New Democrats won a byelection a year ago with 42 per cent of the votes. The Conservative candidate John Martin and Liberal candidate Laurie Throness split the centre-right vote, capturing 25 per cent and 32 per cent.

"The message they sent was 'Hey, you guys right-of-centre, free enterprisers, you guys get your act together because if you don't unite the free-enterprise coalition, come the election, we're in trouble,'" Martin said.

This time around, Martin is back in the Liberal fold, and he said he's not alone.

"A whole bunch of us have left the B.C. Conservatives -- we've left it in droves, actually -- and we're working within this big (Liberal) tent," said Martin, the Liberal candidate in the Chilliwack riding.

Throness is the Liberal candidate in neighbouring Chilliwack-Hope.

Martin said he went to the upstart provincial Conservative party led by former federal Tory cabinet minister John Cummins because he had concerns about the direction the B.C. Liberals were taking.

"At the end of the day, the B.C. Conservatives never did, and they will not get off the ground," Martin said after touring the Langley Concrete plant with Clark and Throness.

Cummins dismissed Martin's criticism. His team has been knocking on doors and working on the ground, "which is where a campaign is won, he said in an email.

"We don't need the same resources to win as a party that's spent $100,000 in desperation on a glorified infomercial," he said, referring to Clark's paid television commercial that aired prior to the start of the campaign.

Clark started off her day in Surrey, where she chatted with patrons at a mom-and-pop restaurant. …

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