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Right, centre-right must unify or lose to NDP: Christy Clark

Former Liberal premier warns of vote splitting if BC United can't be united with Conservatives
Former B.C. premier Christy Clark delivered an unabashedly political speech at BC Business Summit Monday.

Former B.C. Liberal premier Christy Clark is not running for office, but nonetheless delivered a campaign-style speech Monday in front of a business audience, in which she warned that a schism between right and centre-right parties in B.C. could deliver the NDP another election victory in B.C. in October.

Clark, who spent six years as B.C. premier, was among the speakers at the Business Council of BC’s annual B.C. Business Summit.

Clark slammed one of her predecessors – former NDP premier Glen Clark, who spoke earlier at the same event – for turning B.C. into "a have-not" province.

It was vote splitting that allowed Glen Clark's NDP to beat out Gordon Campbell's Liberals in 1996, Clark said.

“Glen Clark became premier and started one of the worst economic periods in British Columbia’s history,” she said.

Clark noted that her Liberal government managed to turn deficit budgets into surpluses.

“We delivered five balanced budgets, we paid down our operating debt to a level not seen in almost 30 years, we controlled the growth of government and ours was the only province with a triple A credit rating,” Clark said.

“We created 260,00 new private sector jobs, and then came (former NDP premier) John Horgan.”

She noted that, under the NDP, the provincial budget went from a $4.2 billion surplus in 2017 to a projected deficit of nearly $8 billion for 2024-2025.

She added that housing affordability, street disorder and drug use have all gotten worse under the NDP government.

“And worst of all, our kids are leaving the province in droves,” she said. “We’ve seen the first… net out-migration since 2012. And most of those people are between the ages of 24 and 40.”

While premier, Clark was a major champion of developing an LNG industry. What has been developed to date is much smaller that it might have been. Clark blamed the NDP government’s climate action policies for squelching growth in the LNG sector.

“They brought in emission targets for LNG that make it impossible to have any more LNG than two trains at a plant, which could go to eight trains potentially,” she said.

“In order to cut Canada’s emissions to zero, the government has decided that the only way to get there is to bring in regulations that will suppress economic growth so that we are no longer producing anything that produces emissions."

She also criticized the federal government for what she characterized as meddling in resource sector industries, which she said is the purview of provincial governments.

“The federal government should get out of the provincial government’s business, and they should stop deciding that they’re going to govern resource development, when in the constitution it’s actually the purview of the provinces,” she said.

Clark warned that the current NDP government could be re-elected, if her former Liberal Party (now BC United) and the B.C. Conservative Party can't find a way to unify.

“Do whatever you can to try to make sure that the parties that are not New Democrats come together so that we don’t split the vote," Clark said. "Because we know that every time the vote is split, the NDP get elected.”

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