VANCOUVER – With just days left to convince British Columbia voters of their political prowess, party leaders tried to bring their campaign messages home on Friday.
New Democrat Leader Adrian Dix was on a blitz of Vancouver Island, the NDP stronghold where the B.C. Greens are hoping to gain ground — and where the Liberals took the unusual step Friday of taking out a full-page ad in the Island’s largest circulation newspaper touting, in part, the strong environmental stance of Green Leader Jane Sterk.
“Who is strong enough to stand up for B.C.?” asks the banner across the top of the ad.
Immediately below is a photo of Sterk, who “says no to Kinder Morgan, says no to Enbridge Northern Gateway and says no to tanker traffic off our coast,” it said.
In comparison, the ad said Dix and the NDP are “flip-flopping.”
At the bottom of the page are the Liberals’ own five conditions for approval of any heavy oil projects, which mean they have not taken a position for or against any proposal at this point.
Dix said the Liberals will say anything and do anything to stay in power.
“What the Liberals are saying is: `Our path to get to power is for you to vote Green,'” he said at a campaign event in Esquimalt.
“I say: The way to change the government, to get a new and better government, is to vote NDP.”
The New Democrats held 10 of 14 seats on the Island, where the B.C. Green party has its best hope of a breakthrough next week.
Dix started his day in the Oak Bay-Gordon Head riding currently held by Liberal cabinet minister Ida Chong, and where climate scientist Andrew Weaver is running for the Greens in what is now considered a three-way race.
Indeed, Sterk spent Friday as she has spent most of the campaign — meeting voters face to face in the few ridings where she believes the Greens have a real chance of victory.
The New Democrats spent the day making whistlestops the length of the island, while Premier Christy Clark held court at the Port of Metro Vancouver.
Clark brought four weeks of campaigning together at the shipping hub, saying getting B.C.’s and Canada’s natural resources to Asian markets is vital to the province’s economic future.
“This is the place that connects Canada to the world. It is right here in our city, in our province,” Clark said as the port bustled below, cranes loading and unloading ships traversing the Pacific.
“We have a responsibility to make sure this port is working for the people in Saskatchewan, the people in Ontario, the people in Quebec, across the country that need to get their goods to Asia.”
A New Democrat government would say no to the natural resource developments that keep the port running, Clark said.
The people of Alberta were notably absent from the list.
Clark has negotiated more than four weeks of campaigning without resolving the outstanding issue of whether or not a Liberal government in Victoria would support two controversial pipeline projects that would allow land-locked Alberta to expand the customer base for its oil beyond the United States.
Alberta Premier Alison Redford has said the neighbouring province faces a $6-billion revenue shortfall this year because oilsands crude fetches a discounted price in its sole market.
Clark has not declared support for or against the Northern Gateway or Kinder Morgan pipelines throughout the campaign, but she issued a dire warning Friday about B.C.’s role in keeping the Canadian economy going.
“Canada cannot afford to have this province become a `have-not’ province, that fails to contribute to Confederation, again,” Clark said as port workers and Andy Smith, president of the B.C. Maritime Employers Association, looked on.
“British Columbians need us to succeed, absolutely… but every Canadian is depending on us too this time because there aren’t a lot of `have’ provinces left in this country.”
Smith, who hosted the premier’s event at the federal port, said his association supports the B.C. Liberals.
“My view on politics is driven by economics. As the BCMEA, we understand that there has to be a perception that this province is friendly to investment,” he said.
“An NDP government puts a chill on that kind of investment.”