Clark defends government ad spending

'One of the things we need to do is really listen to people and engage them in their government'

Michele Young / Kamloops Daily News
November 10, 2012 01:00 AM

Premier Christy Clark in The Daily News boardroom Friday morning.

Premier Christy Clark defended her government's $15-million advertising campaign focused on skills, training and jobs Friday, saying it's a way to engage the public in moving the plan forward.

"One of the things we have to do is as we're building government policy is get the opinions and the best thinking of the people in the province.

"I said I was going to do government differently. One of the things we need to do is really listen to people and engage them in their government," Clark said in an interview with the Daily News Friday morning.

In town for an evening farewell roast for MLA Kevin Krueger, she said B.C. has netted 46,000 new jobs in the last year - about how long her jobs plan has been around.

According to Statistics Canada, B.C.'s unemployment rate declined by 0.3 per cent in October from the previous month, reaching 6.7 per cent. The number of people with jobs fell by 10,900, but was still up by 29,500 jobs from October of 2011.

Clark said her government's advertisements are fact based and the websites for the jobs and skills training plans are highlighted to engage the public in building the plans outward.

When asked if polling might be a better way to gauge opinions and glean ideas, the premier stuck to her ads.

"A poll might or might not tell you what people are thinking, I guess generally it tells you how people might vote. What does that tell you about how we can build a jobs and training plan for the future? How we can make sure our kids, kids in Kamloops are first in line for jobs so they grow up here, get educated here and they can get a job here."

But the NDP candidate for Kamloops-North Thompson, Kathy Kendall, said the "self-promoting ads" are a waste of millions of dollars.

She said the Liberals should cancel the campaign and put the money into home-care for seniors and other services.

"It's disappointing that the Liberals are wasting millions of taxpayer dollars promoting themselves on TV while crucial services such as home-care go underfunded," she said in a press release.

"I've spoken to many people in Kamloops and the North Thompson who are upset that the government is cutting crucial services, yet can find the money for an ad campaign in an attempt turn around their political fortunes."

Kendall also criticized Clark for spending up to $1.5 million to celebrate this province's first Family Day statutory holiday in February.

But Clark said the amount might come in under that, and she felt it was important to mark the holiday's debut.

"We are celebrating, on Family Day, the most important structure in our society," she said, adding strong families make for strong communities and strong countries.

Clark also defended B.C. Conflict Commissioner Paul Fraser being the investigator into allegations of her possible conflict in the B.C. Rail sale.

Ex-Liberal, ex-Conservative and now independent MLA John van Dongen has been publicly calling for the investigation into Clark's involvement with the B.C. Rail deal.

Fraser's son, John, is assistant deputy minister in the government's communications department.

Clark said John Fraser doesn't work for her, he's a civil servant.

As for Paul Fraser, she felt it was unfair for her political opponents to question his integrity.

"Paul Fraser is a highly respected lawyer in British Columbia. He was selected by a bi-partisan committee in the legislature and he has never been accused of bias," she said.

"He's a man of great integrity. His reputation is absolutely spotless. It's totally totally unfair to drag his reputation through the mud as a way to launch a political attack on me."

Repeating a phrase that she has used frequently in reference to the B.C. Rail cloud hanging over her head, Clark said she would be glad when the probe was over.

"Because this will finally, with this report, stick a fork in it."


Premier Christy Clark and Kamloops MLA Terry Lake share the same party and much of the same philosophy.

But when it comes to whether MLAs should get transitional allowance - the so-called golden parachute - if they are ousted in a recall effort, the two see things differently.

Clark said Friday she felt if MLAs are being recalled because their constituents don't want them there, then they shouldn't get the allowance.

"If an MLA gets recalled, that's pretty serious stuff. There must have been a very serious breach of the public trust, the public confidence. I would think if an MLA gets recalled, they don't deserve what's essentially a severance," she said.

Clark's comments came two days after news broke in Victoria that a legislative committee had brought in a recall allowance of up to 15 months' pay - about $127,000.

MLAs already get the allowance if they resign or are not re-elected, until they find other work or until 15 months is up, whichever comes first.

Clark said when MLAs get recalled, it's an extraordinary event and so they shouldn't get the allowance.

On the other hand, sometimes MLAs don't get re-elected for political, or party policy reasons, so in those cases the money is warranted, she said.

"It's a different kettle of fish. Sometimes it's the party that doesn't get re-elected."

Lake, who was the focus of a recall fired by an anti-HST effort, told the Daily News Thursday he felt the allowance should be available if an MLA was ousted because of government policy, but not if it was due to doing something illegal or immoral.

But if they were just doing their jobs as politicians, it should be available, he said.

© Copyright 2015 Kamloops Daily News

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