Four BC political leaders sit down to talk all important issues regarding our citizens and their future, this was one of two chances to see and hear all leaders at once. After hour and a half of debate just few issues emerged as the most important to voters and the leaders. Debt, deficit budget, economy, government transparency are just few of those. What we see and hear on Friday at CKNW was expected to anybody with decent knowledge of BC politics.
Premier Christy Clark come out as always prepared with standard lines regarding NDP policies and what she thinks that Adrian Dix will do. I’m quite surprised that she didn’t used too much her over familiar “Families First” agenda which is one of her key platforms since she run for BC Liberals leadership. “Balanced budget” despite many different opinions, including numerous experts in this field, still is Clark’s feature campaign element. I’m not sure that she understands that promise of having three consecutive years of surplus is in such a big danger that could become just a dream. Markets fluctuations, possible recession, and economy which will not deliver required number of jobs could derailed her plans to have planned surplus. Also she’s repeating same lines regarding what rating agencies told to her regarding balanced budget. Well that’s another tricky one because those agencies will tell you whatever you want until you pay them big bucks. That situation happened in United States just ahead of big financial crisis when all “Too Big To Fall” banks were given “AAA” rank and at least four of them where in grave situation. So I would not put too much effort to draw my lines based on their opinions and words. What was really frustrating to me is that she tried to control how this debate was going, cutting off her colleagues, and in numerous times taking Bill Good’s role as host. I’m glad to see that Good was able to stop her and to keep this show in control. After all not so good presentation by Christy Clark. She should get rid of her prepared lines and show why she was considered quite good talk-show host in this debate she was well away from that Christy Clark. Also she should not use her Blackberry again during scrums, it was another addition to her bad presentation during and after debate.
To be honest I was surprised with duo Cummins and Stark who hold their lines in an very appropriate manner. To me Cummins gave his best on proposed pipelines and tankers because his answers were clear and understandable. I don’t think his agenda is viable and implementable but he showed experience, ability to present his knowledge and ideas to those who will support him. Unfortunately looks like he spent more time preparing for debate instead of vetting his candidates. Greens leader Sterk had some great lines and rebuttals on Clark’s budget lines calling it “wonderful budget” which never delivered promised, but her all “danger” of this or that when it comes to climate change, unbelievable ideas regarding economy expansion, are not comfortable to me. After all she presented somehow good candidate for her supporters.
Opposition leader and premier-in-waiting Dix was not at the top of his abilities this time. He did much better job in one-on-one interview with Good just day before all candidate debate. What I found striking is that he smartly delivered all his lines from the previous interview and even added some new. He hunted for several times Clark over the Legislation seating and sessions, but he never got an answer on that question. Yes Dix is secretive when it comes to details of his campaign and promises, while giving out a billions of dollars in promises, but at least he sticks with his talking lines. Where Dix scored big points with voters is question of “balanced budget” where he clearly rebutted Clark’s “talking lines” regarding bonding agencies and their reports. I don’t agree with his idea of rushing towards final decision on pipelines, also BC Place and Convention Centre because those should have another look, probable deal and proper strategy how to use them for the benefit of the province. For the upcoming TV debate Dix should fix his “dry mouth” problem [probably caused by his diabetes] and be more offensive on Clark. Some training would be preferable. What was visible is his improvement during scrums and ability to tackle tricky followup questions.
Whatever happens on May 14, we’re gonna have very interesting few years ahead of us. As someone who lived majority of my adult life in a country lead first by socialist government (Yugoslavia) and after that mix of different political programs (Bosnia) I’m afraid of Dix’s promises to run more deficit to BC budget. I’m also scared what will happen if Premier Clark continues adding that debt and her predictions of “balanced budget” don’t deliver as she expects. We could find ourselves in the big trouble, so think twice before you vote on May 14th.
And you should watch post-debate analysis by Alise Mills and Marcella Munro on friday’s Power and Politics on CBC, some really great points regarding leaders performance. Watch it here.