The provincial election battle has spilled out onto the streets of Prince George.
Both the New Democrat and Liberal camps held rallies early Tuesday morning the day the writ was dropped and the election campaign officially got underway leading up to the May 12 election.
The New Democrat crew took up residence at the intersection of Fifth Avenue and Central Street while the Liberal bunch were just down the street at 15th Avenue and Central; all greeting motorists on their way to work before 8 a.m. Despite assertions from some that a good photo op would be for the two groups to march down Central and meet at 10th Avenue, this did not happen.
NDP candidates, Julie Carew in the riding of Prince George-Valemount and Tobias Lawrence for Prince George-Mackenzie, and Liberal candidates Shirley Bond in Prince George-Valemount and Pat Bell in Prince George-Mackenzie were leading their respective troops, waving at motorists and encouraging truckers to sound their air horns.
Carew said the response to the NDP rally was very positive and, with the NDP releasing its campaign platform last week, the party is ready for the election.
“(NDP leader) Carole (James) released that on Thursday, very positive responses from that also,” Carew said. “It looks like we’re ready for change.
The NDP platform, however, was the target of attack from Bell Thursday as the Liberals opened their campaign office.
“From what we can tell,” Bell said about the NDP platform. “Half of it has already been introduced or implemented by us, the other half of it wouldn’t work anyway.”
Lawrence, however, said there is something in the NDP platform for everyone in British Columbia.
“There’s a good climate change policy,” Lawrence said. “It’s about the forest industry, which is a priority for the North. It’s about when resources get extracted in the North, a certain percentage goes back to the people so the neglect and abandonment of Mackenzie doesn’t happen to another town.”
The strongest electioneering, however, came from Bond who pointed to the fact she was in a closely contested race in 2005.
“I refuse to accept the fact that another party is going to put the burden of debt on future generations in British Columbia,” she said at the campaign office opening Thursday. “It is unacceptable. We cannot let Carole James become premier of this province, our grandchildren deserve better than that.”
Bond, however, may be facing an unexpected election issue as the School District 57 board held a special meeting last night to discuss the future of the Giscome Elementary School. The BCTF has been running election ads decrying the closure of schools under the Liberal government. Bond, the education minister, has taken plenty of heat over the issue.