Premier Christy Clark ended months of speculation Thursday, announcing she will wait until the scheduled date of May 2013 to face the voters in a general election.
Since winning the B.C. Liberal leadership in February, Clark has questioned whether she has a sufficient mandate to govern until the election date specified in provincial law. She reversed that position in interviews with selected Vancouver media outlets last week.
Clark denied that the defeat of the harmonized sales tax or party polling changed her mind. In various interviews, she emphasized the instability of the world economy and the lack of a public appetite for another election this year.
Cariboo Chilcotin MLA Donna Barnett is pleased that Clark has decided to pull back from an election.
“I think it’s a great decision,” she said. “People are tired of elections. I’ve had people come to me and say they are tired of elections, tired of referendums, they are tired of it all. I think when people get frustrated and tired you are going to create more apathy.”
Barnett says now the government can focus on the economy and job creation.
Cariboo North MLA Bob Simpson expects to get back to the legislature in October for a fall session. He says the premier now needs to think about bringing forward an agenda and legislation for that session. Simpson, an advocate for fixed election dates, has suggested changing B.C.’s election date to the fall — Oct. 2012, for example — which would not interfere with the government’s annual bringing down of its budget. In a June interview Simpson had reflected that judging by the lack of decorum in the legislature it might be good to go to the polls.
“You have two new leaders in the Liberals and the New Democrats. They are at each others throats and the debate in the house is not productive, it’s all politics all the time.”
Charlie Wyse, who is the confirmed NDP candidate for the Cariboo Chilcotin riding for the next election, says he will continue to stand as the NDP candidate until the election is called.
“I will remain the candidate over this period of time. I’ve been nominated in response to Ms. Clark’s indecisiveness. For me, for the next period of time, I will continue to be available to people in the community. I will be making myself available around the constituency. I will be continuing to find out more about the issues that are effecting people in the Cariboo Chilcotin,” Wyse said.
As for whether Clark would change her mind, as she’s entitled to do by the legislation, Barnett doesn’t think so.
“I believe what she’s told us and I have no reason not to believe it. I think she’s listening to the people.”
— With files from Tom Fletcher