The race for leader of the BC Liberal party gained momentum Tuesday as the six candidates announced platform initiatives and promises of policy change should they be elected the province's next premier. But not all of the hopeful's big promises are being welcomed with open arms.

Kevin Falcon's announcement about his plan to improve public education by introducing a merit-based pay system for B.C. teachers has come under fire by the B.C. Teachers' Federation.

Susan Lambert, president of the BCTF, told that it was irresponsible of Falcon to introduce the idea.

"I think it's a very bad idea for public education," she said. "The practice -- instead of creating a culture of collaboration to share ideas and resources -- starts to pit teacher against teacher for money."

Lambert said that merit pay systems in Britain and the United States have been "colossal failures."

In a press conference Tuesday, George Abbott said he also opposes Falcon's merit-based pay policy because of lack of evidence the model has been successful in other education systems.

Abbott announced an 18 point plan outlining his vision for B.C.

In addition to moving the HST referendum forward to June, he pledged to add a question regarding the fate of the carbon tax to the ballot.

"Do we continue the carbon tax beyond 2012 and increase that carbon tax?" he said. "Or do we take a pause to review the impacts and implications of that tax and assess whether that tax is meeting the objectives it set out to meet?"

Abbott also promised to order an independent third party to examine the BC Rail trial in which government aides Dave Basi and Bobby Virk were found guilty of corruption.

"This deal left tax payers covering some $6-million in expenses even though the accused were found guilty," he said. "I know this bothers people and it certainly bothers me."

Christy Clark announced Tuesday that if she becomes the next premier she will hold 12 town hall meetings a year in an effort to rebuild public trust through a series of Open Government Initiatives.

Clark's platform includes raising the minimum wage in B.C., which is currently the lowest in Canada at $8, and creating more long-term jobs in industries such as mining.

Meanwhile, Mike de Jong announced Tuesday if elected he will cut the size of government by reducing the number of cabinet ministers from 24 to 20. He did not specify which ministers he would eliminate.

In a press conference, he said he will also make expense records of MLAs made public every six months.

Dr. Moira Stilwell announced Monday that she would designate $10 million towards creating a national mountain search-and-rescue training program in Revelstoke, B.C.

In a surprise addition, mayor of Parksville, B.C., and former Tim Hortons vice-president, Ed Mayne, became the sixth candidate to join the leadership race Tuesday. The 60-year-old said his fresh ideas and credibility will set him apart from the other five hopefuls.