Clark beats Liberal leadership drum

As the B.C. Liberal Party leadership campaign hits the home stretch, contender Christy Clark visited Trail Thursday to remind the party faithful to vote for change.

B.C. Liberal leadership candidate Christy Clark and former broadcaster Pamela Martin checked out the archives room at the Colombo Lodge with lodge president Larry Martin on Thursday.

B.C. Liberal leadership candidate Christy Clark and former broadcaster Pamela Martin checked out the archives room at the Colombo Lodge with lodge president Larry Martin on Thursday.

Candidate visits Trail with former broadcasting

veteran at her side

As the B.C. Liberal Party leadership campaign hits the home stretch, contender Christy Clark visited Trail Thursday to remind the party faithful to vote for change.

“This leadership campaign is not just about who gets to lead the Liberal campaign, there’s a lot at stake,” she said to about 30 people gathered at the Colombo Hall.

Clark fears that if she’s not voted in as the Liberal leader, her party could lose in a provincial election.

She described herself as “unique” from her competition as she is the only one who wasn’t present when the HST deal was rushed in, adding that’s why this election came about in the first place.

“To me this race is about the 95,000 members of the B.C. Liberal party,” she said. “This decision belongs to you, and I think British Columbians are sick and tired of the insiders making decisions.”

The former deputy premier left government in 2004 to raise a family and since became a successful talk-show radio host.

She doesn’t feel threatened by her competition — Kevin Falcon, Mike De Jong and George Abbott — even though some of them have support from cabinet ministers, backbenchers and even former leadership candidates. Both Ed Mayne and Moira Stilwell dropped out of the race this week and threw their support behind Abbott, the former education minister (see story, Page 4).

“I just don’t think people like it when candidates come out and seem like they’re manipulating the process,” said Clark. “It’s a double-edged sword; we’ll all work well together no matter who wins.”

Clark may not have backing from caucus, but she does have support from a long-time friend and broadcaster. Former CTV anchor Pamela Martin retired from her 35 years in television before the new year and a few days later, joined the political party.

She said supporting Clark’s bid to become premier was a no-brainer, as she respects her as a politician and a person.

“She’s a fabulous person, very honest and she has a lot of integrity,” said Martin, who noted that when they pulled into Trail Thursday, she flashed back to a couple stories she reported about Teck over the years.

Clark reminded the crowd that this vote marks an historical event in the province, as it was 22 years ago that the public last could have a hand in directly voting on a premier.

She added that rural residents have been given more say on who will run the party with last weekend’s change to the voting system.

“Every single vote in this community will matter,” she said, pointing to the move to a weighted ballot at the leadership convention Feb. 26, replacing the party’s one-member, one-vote system.

Under the weighted-ballot-vote, each of B.C.’s 85 ridings will be given 100 points even though some urban areas have far more Liberal members.

While there are around 5,800 party members, for instance, in the riding of Surrey-Newton who will be allowed to vote, their choices will be given the same value as the party’s 200 members in Kootenay West.

She’s happy to see the power go back to people living in rural parts of the province, and as a leader, said she’d take this even further.

“You can’t count on the premier speaking on behalf of every community in the province,” she said, indicating that she’d like MLAs to have a stronger voice for their residents.

Clark joined the race because she believes she’s the only one that can win an election due to her fresh perspective.

“This election is about change. Not some half-baked, pretend change, we have to offer the real deal.”

Her “family-first” campaign has been well received in the province.

“Who is it that makes your life work? It isn’t the government, it’s your family,” she said. “That’s what a thriving economy is, it really is about family.”