Above: 📷 CTV
By Associate Editor Natalie Gates
As you know, the Liberal party has been head of BC government for the past 16 years. This came after 10 years straight of NDP leadership. Before this, premiers of the Conservative party dominated the mid-twentieth century.
Today, Christy Clark stands in a close campaign against the NDP and its party leader, John Horgan. The polls have been tight with both the NDP and Liberals taking turns with slight leads, but issues yet to be debated could still have a substantial impact. Meanwhile, the Greens and Conservatives trail behind with about a third of the vote of their leading counterparts.
It looks like the May 9 election will either spur another few years of the same red curtain or bring back the orange blaze of the nineties. For a walk down memory lane, we’ve created this timeline to highlight some of the major progressions of current premier Christy Clark’s past six years in office.
Remember to make sure you are registered to vote by going to <eregister.electionsbc.gov.bc.ca>. General registration closes April 11, but you can still register when you go to vote. Students in BC have launched a province-wide initiative, titled “Students Are Voting”, to mobilize post-secondary students to vote this May.
“Students and youth turned out in record numbers in the past Federal election and helped tip a number of very close races,” said Simka Marshall, Chairperson of the British Columbia Federation of Students. “Our message to students is simple: this election will be incredibly close, every vote will count, and every vote will make a difference.”
March 14, 2011
Clark was sworn in as premier of BC after she won leadership of the BC Liberal party on February 26, 2011. She becomes the second female premier of BC after Rita Johnson’s short time in office in 1991, and is the first female premier to carry an election in her own right.
May 11, 2011
Clark left politics in 2005 and became the host of an afternoon radio talk show. At the time of her leadership victory, Clark was not a member of the Legislative Assembly of British Columbia. She re-entered the legislature after winning a by-election on May 11, 2011, in Vancouver-Point Grey, the seat left vacant by former premier Gordon Campbell.
A 17-page document dated January 10, 2012 and called Multicultural Strategy Outreach Plan was leaked to Clark’s deputy chief of staff and to the personal email addresses of eight people, including Brian Bonney, a former government multiculturalism communications director; and former Liberal caucus official Jeff Melland.
The leaked strategy revealed plans to outflank the NDP in its approach to handling the ethnic media, with the objective to “match and then exceed the B.C. NDP’s ethnic media efforts in a place of importance equal to that of so-called mainstream media.”
March 14, 2013
The Liberal Party won its fourth straight majority. Despite their victory, the Liberals had been consistently several points behind the opposition New Democrats in every public opinion poll throughout the campaign. Clark was defeated in her riding.The NDP remained the official opposition, losing two seats, and the Green Party won its first seat.
July 10, 2013
A subsequent by-election in Westside Kelowna is held and Clark is re-elected to the legislature after Liberal MLA Ben Stewart stepped down on her behalf.
The B.C. government signed an agreement with First Nations groups pledging to end violence against aboriginal women and girls. Premier Christy Clark signed a memorandum of understanding with groups including the First Nations Summit, the B.C. Assembly of First Nations, the Union of B.C. Indian Chiefs and Métis Nation British Columbia. The agreement, which was read aloud during a ceremony, does not include any specific policies or programs, but the province is pledging to work with First Nations groups to set goals and then create policies to reach them.
In the midst of the BC teacher’s job action, Clark called on teachers to “suspend their strike, reduce their demands, and return to the bargaining table,” wrote CBC. There was much debate surrounding Clark’s statements. “They are still demanding twice as much as other public sector workers have received,” said the premier. “The teachers union needs to come to the table with a proposal that is realistic.”
January 15, 2015
In an effort to save dwindling caribou herds, the BC Liberals ordered an immediate wolf cull where wolves would be shot from planes. The plan was largely based on a predator- control study in Alberta that study showed mixed results– decline of the caribou population slowed, but it was not clear predation was reduced by the cull. The researchers concluded, however, that predator control was beneficial. In drafting its wolf-kill program, B.C. used as advisers two of the authors of the Alberta study. The cull was met with great objection from environmentalists, including celebrities like Pamela Anderson and Miley Cyrus in September of 2015. In response to Cyrus’s objections, Clark said, “If we ever need help with our twerking policy, we’ll go to [Ms. Cyrus].” Over 200 wolves have been killed in the cull so far.
May 20, 2015
The B.C. government signs a development deal with Pacific NorthWest LNG in an aggressive move to spur the Malaysian- led project to become the first major Canadian exporter of liquefied natural gas. B.C. Opposition NDP Leader John Horgan said the provincial government put too much on the table for industry. “My biggest concern is that we are tying the hands of future governments because a desperate government made commitments that they over promised on,” he told The Globe and Mail. “And now they want to get a deal at any cost.”
October 22, 2015
On October 22, 2015, B.C. Privacy Commissioner Elizabeth Denham published an indicting report, entitled Access Denied, exposing a culture of so-called “triple-deletions” of emails and related cover-ups, including lies under oath, within Christy Clark’s government. The report found that the Premier’s staffers, including Christy Clark’s deputy chief of staff Michele Cadario, and her Transportation Minister Todd Stone, routinely contravened freedom of information laws by bulk deleting emails on a daily basis. The Ministry of Advanced Education was similarly found to be in contravention of freedom of information laws, meant to protect the public’s right to hold politicians accountable for their actions.
In December 2015, Clark expressed her disappointment over Prime Minister Justin Trudeau’s plans for a non-partisan Senate, saying “appointing senators on merit will give legitimacy to an unelected, unaccountable upper house.” She also expressed disappointment over the lack of representation from British Columbia, as of the 105-seat chamber, British Columbia only has six seats.
Clark and her party support the Greens bill that set clear guidelines for sexual assault and misconduct at all public post-secondary institutions in B.C. Clark reveals a personal experience as a reason for supporting the bill.
Clark joined Woodfibre LNG executive Byng Giraud as they announced the company’s funding approval for a proposed $1.6-billion natural gas liquefaction plant in Squamish. This came after years of talking about the potential of LNG to drive B.C.’s economic future, and two years of many LNG proponents cancelling projects, delaying proposals and being caught in indecision in the middle of a supply glut that has collapsed global prices for the fuel. “This is the first of 20 projects that are in the pipeline somewhere to go forward so far, and I’m just delighted to say that LNG in British Columbia is finally becoming a reality,” Clark told the Vancouver Sun. The project has been met with substantial objections from some environmental advocates.
March 10, 2017
The Globe and Mail revealed the shocking $12 million raised by the BC Liberals through lobbyists and other power broker donations. While other governments have banned “private cash-for-access events” or put caps on donations, BC has little to no rules regarding such donations. Wrote, The Globe “investigation in B.C. also found some lobbyists violating one of the few rules the province has: that donors cannot be reimbursed by clients or companies for their political contributions. Doing so means they are giving on behalf of other entities and leaving the public in the dark about the source of the money, because the contribution is listed in public records as coming from the lobbyist not the company or person that covered the cost.” On March 11, NDP leader John Horgan wrote a letter to Clark asking her to introduce legislation banning corporate and union donations to B.C. political parties.
Now in her fourth and final year of a political studies major and journalism minor, Natalie has been on The Nav team for about two years. When she’s not brainstorming stories or studying, she’s usually on her yoga mat, going for a hike, listening to Springsteen, or fantasizing about what to cook for dinner.