Election will be about economy, not HST, Clark declares

Proposed Ajax mine must be environmentally sustainable, premier says

Shrugging off the stain of the HST debacle on the Liberal government's record, Premier Christy Clark said on Friday that the 2013 election should be fought over the economy instead.

By next April, the PST will have replaced the harmonized tax, Clark noted. People should look around and ask themselves if they want to take a chance on an NDP government in the face of economic uncertainty worldwide.

"We should talk about the economy," Clark said in a brief scrum with the media at TRU. "We are having incredible success with turmoil around the world. We've been disciplined fiscal managers; we've been encouraging a thriving private sector."

She emphasized the 57,000 jobs added to the B.C. economy since February 2011.

"Or do they want an economy that's going into retreat?"

Reminded that the Liberals are running a distant second behind the NDP in public opinion polls - by a margin of as much as two to one in the Interior - Clark was nonchalant.

"I think you should ask Alison Redford about the value of polls," she said.

The premier was asked, in relation to the economy, what she thought of the Ajax mine proposal, specifically a strip mine located within the municipal boundaries of a B.C. city.

"I'm a big supporter, an enthusiastic supporter of mining," she said, noting that there are 17 mines proposed across the province.

"With Ajax, we're getting into the environmental review process," she added. "I support mining 100 per cent, but it has to be done in a way that is environmentally sustainable."

Clark sidestepped a question about providing municipalities with some degree of control over mines located in such close proximity to population centres.

"Every city has just as critical an interest in supporting its economic base as the province does," she said, adding that the city will look after its own interests."

Clark was flanked by MLAs Terry Lake and Kevin Krueger, who is leaving public office before the election. She wouldn't say how many other MLAs are thinking along similar lines given that the Liberals face an uphill battle.

"There will be some other MLAs who are not going to run again," she allowed. Taking the leap into or out of politics is a life-changing decision, she said.

"Kevin Krueger had done an absolutely outstanding job of representing his community since 1996," said Clark, who described him as one of the most forthright politicians in Canada. "We are sorry to be losing him."

Clark and her entourage went on to have lunch at the home of Todd Stone, the Kamloops software CEO who is considering a run for the Liberal nomination. She credited Stone for his business acumen and community work but said she is not endorsing his candidacy.

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