Liberal leader Gordon Campbell made a campaign stop in Prince George Thursday to boost support for local candidates Pat Bell and Shirley Bond.
Campbell met with the Free Press staff to discuss northern issues and respond to criticism aimed at his government by NDP leader Carole James in her tour stop on Monday.
“We’re really working hard today to remind people how important this vote is. I do believe this is the most important election of my lifetime,” Campbell said. “It’s really a critical election for people who are concerned about their jobs.”
Although the province is feeling the impact of the global recession, B.C. is weathering it better than most jurisdictions in North America, he said. The NDP’s policies could put up to 100,000 British Columbians out of work, according to some analysts he said.
Campbell said the Liberals can stand behind their record in Northern B.C., having supported projects like the Northern Medical Program and expanded airport runway.
“Maybe Ms. James doesn’t think a new medical school is important. She voted against it,” Campbell said. “She may want to practice the politics of division. (But) people in Prince George can look at what has happened in Prince George over the last eight years.”
The NDP would look at restoring the corporate capital tax, which would provide a disincentive to invest in the province, he said.
Campbell said the NDP stance on social issues such as homelessness and EI don’t match their voting record in the Legislature.
“I’ve heard the rhetoric from the NDP, but it is a little bit hollow,” he said. “Today in B.C. people who earn under $16,000 don’t pay any income tax. Two-hundred-and-fifty-thousand people pay nothing for pharmacare,” he said. “They voted against every cent we provided those programs. They are more comfortable with old problems than new solutions.”
The B.C. Progress Board has reported that child poverty is down 15 per cent in B.C., he added.
The Liberal government also purchased single-occupancy hotels, opened shelters in Vancouver 24 hours a day and provide up to $9,000 per year in rental assistance.
“Their campaign is focused on personal attacks and unfounded allegations,” Campbell said.
Campbell said the controversial sale of B.C. Rail has paid dividends for the North.
“I was in Prince Rupert and they’re celebrating a container port handling 250,000 TEUs. I go across the North and hear about how great the work the Northern Development Initiative Trust is doing,” he said. “Right now what I see is the benefits that have taken place.”
Campbell attended a Liberal rally at the Prince George Roll-a-Dome Thursday evening, before moving on the campaign trail.