B.C. Liberal leadership contender Christy Clark calls for MLA "free vote" on HST
B.C. Liberal leadership candidate Christy Clark says she supports holding a “free vote” in the provincial legislature on extinguishing the HST.
“It is time for British Columbia to have certainty around this question,” Clark told supporters gathered in Vancouver today (December 8) for her leadership campaign launch.
Clark indicated she supports the HST in principle, but noted the public remains deeply opposed to the 12-percent tax.
“I believe the HST process was fatally flawed from the outset,” she said.
The former Liberal cabinet minister predicted voters will likely reject the tax in a referendum set for September 2011.
“Let us consider putting the proposed referendum question to a truly free vote in the legislative assembly.”
If MLAs decide to reverse the tax, she said, the federal government should be immediately notified and negotiations should start for the province to back out of the agreement that established the HST, a blend of the provincial sales tax and the GST.
Clark claimed the HST could be “behind us” by the end of March 2011.
She said consulting on the HST’s future will be a focus of her leadership campaign.
Clark officially announced her leadership intentions this morning on CKNW, becoming the fifth candidate to enter the race to become the next B.C. Liberal Party leader.
During a news conference this morning at SFU’s Segal Graduate School of Business in downtown Vancouver, she outlined her policy ideas.
In a statement read to reporters, Clark said she is focused on establishing a “families-first agenda” in B.C. She said she wants to hear from British Columbians on issues including the economy, the resource sector, health care, education, and First Nations.
“Politics in these crucial areas need to work if British Columbia’s going to work for families,” she said.
Clark also lashed out at the B.C. New Democrats, saying the party cannot be allowed to form the next government in the province.
“They don’t stand for families. They stand for special interests,” she said.
Clark added that British Columbians want “new leadership” and a “participatory style of government”.
Before quitting provincial politics in 2005 to focus on her family, Clark had held positions as education minister, children's minister, and deputy premier.
She was first elected as a provincial legislator in 1996, initially serving in the Opposition.
Clark has also hosted a radio show on CKNW. She said she is taking a leave from that job to pursue the B.C. Liberal leadership.
The other leadership contenders are Liberal MLAs George Abbott, Mike de Jong, Kevin Falcon, and Moira Stilwell. All four have resigned from cabinet to campaign leading up to the leadership vote in late February 2011.
In early November, Premier Gordon Campbell announced he would be resigning as party leader, triggering the leadership contest. Campbell's successor will also become the next premier of B.C.
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