Horgan defends economics of NDP platform from Liberal attacks
Laura Kane, The Canadian Press
Published Wednesday, April 19, 2017 11:03AM PDT
Last Updated Wednesday, April 19, 2017 5:03PM PDT
VANCOUVER -- Christy Clark's Liberals are ramping up attacks on the NDP's ability to manage British Columbia's economy, accusing the party of releasing a platform that will cost billions with no way to pay for it.
- Scroll down or click here for key developments from Day 9 on the campaign trail
The New Democrats' platform includes $10-a-day child care and eliminating tolls on two busy bridges in Metro Vancouver. But the party says a new tax on housing speculators and raising taxes on the top two per cent of earners and corporations will help it balance the budget.
Carole James, the NDP's finance critic, dismissed the Liberal accusations on Wednesday as "fearmongering."
"Let's remember that last election, Christy Clark literally put 'Debt-free B.C.' on the side of her campaign bus," said James, referring to Clark's promise to eliminate the debt through a liquefied natural gas industry.
"In four years since then, she's added $11 billion to B.C.'s debt. It's really quite incredible to see Christy Clark making these claims after her own credibility has been shredded time after time."
Michael de Jong, the finance minister in Clark's government, held a news conference where he said the Liberals' analysis of the NDP platform reveals $6.5 billion in costs that the party has not accounted for because of what he called costing errors and a failure to account for interest costs on increased spending.
The analysis does not include the NDP's revenue assumptions or 40 additional uncosted promises, de Jong said in a statement.
The NDP's platform calls for $7 billion in additional borrowing, but James said that will only raise the debt-to-GDP ratio by one per cent over five years.
Clark, wearing a blue hard hat while campaigning in Surrey, said B.C. is leading the country in job creation and economic growth and the New Democrats threaten that progress.
"Their platform creates not a hole in our budget, it is a crater, a giant, smoking crater of a hole to the tune of billions of dollars that they are going to fill with your money in the form of new taxes," she said.
The Liberals have been in power since 2001 and have a released a platform that promises $157 million in new spending over three years above what they already committed to in the government's budget tabled in February. Both the NDP and Liberal platforms are based on the underlying numbers in the budget.
The Liberals have accused the NDP of poorly managing B.C.'s finances in the 1990s, but James defended her party's economic record.
"The people that I talk to on the doorstep want to talk about today. They want to talk about the future," she added. "They're tired of hearing the same old storylines from the B.C. Liberals."
The New Democrats are planning to take a $500-million "LNG prosperity fund" created by Clark and apply it towards eliminating bridge tolls. They're also promising to eliminate medical services premiums and freeze BC Hydro rates.
The NDP platform commits to balancing the budget this year and the following two years, but the party says it is concerned that the Liberals' pre-election budget does not reflect real needs in those years.
NDP Leader John Horgan campaigned Wednesday at the University of British Columbia in Vancouver, where he promoted his plan to eliminate interest on student loans and offer a $1,000 completion grant to people who finish their studies.
Horgan said the numbers in the NDP platform are "very solid."
"(The Liberals) think they own this money. They don't," he said. "These are tax dollars that have been put into a pot by hard-working British Columbians and they want a government that's going to make choices that benefit their lives."
Key developments from Day 9 on the campaign trail
-- Christy Clark campaigned in the Vancouver area on Wednesday, telling an event in Surrey that the Site C dam is necessary for the province's economic well being.
-- It was the second straight day that Clark highlighted the $8.8-billion hydroelectric project after she visited Fort St. John on Tuesday to tout construction jobs it has created.
-- The Liberals issued their own analysis accusing the NDP of releasing a platform without costing out how to pay for it.
-- Michael de Jong, the finance minister in Clark's government, said the Liberals' analysis of the NDP platform reveals $6.5 billion in costs that the party has not accounted for because of what he called costing errors and a failure to account for interest costs on increased spending.
-- John Horgan campaigned at the University of British Columbia in Vancouver, where he promoted his plan to eliminate interest on student loans and offer a $1,000 completion grant to people who finish their studies.
-- Horgan says his party would also eliminate fees for adult basic education and English as a second language programs while maintaining a cap on tuition fees at colleges and universities.
-- Carole James, the NDP's finance critic, dismissed the Liberal accusations on its platform as "fearmongering."
-- Horgan said the numbers in the NDP platform are based on the Liberal government's recent budget.
-- Green party Leader Andrew Weaver was scheduled to campaign in Kamloops on Wednesday afternoon.
-- Party spokesman Stefan Jonsson says the Greens had 80 candidates officially approved by Elections BC ahead of a Tuesday afternoon registration deadline and were waiting to hear back on the eligibility of up to three more.
-- A final list had not been published by Elections BC by mid-afternoon on Wednesday on all the candidates who are running in the province's 87 ridings.
-- Jonsson said the party is proud of the candidates who have put their names forward, and excited that most ridings across the province will include a Green candidate.
-- Only about 48 per cent of registered voters aged 18 to 24 cast a ballot in 2013, but some university campus groups are trying to boost turnout this time, including a group called Young Climate Voters that is urging students to elect climate leaders.
-- Elections BC says cards explaining where to vote were being delivered across the province on Wednesday.
-- The agency is reminding voters to bring their Where to Vote card with them when to their polling places.
-- Registered voters will receive a card that includes the dates, times and locations for advance voting in their district, as well as their assigned voting place for the day of the general election on May 9.