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B.C. Premier Christy Clark in Vancouver office April 13, 2011. (JOHN LEHMANN/JOHN LEHMANN/THE GLOBE AND MAIL)
B.C. Premier Christy Clark in Vancouver office April 13, 2011. (JOHN LEHMANN/JOHN LEHMANN/THE GLOBE AND MAIL)

Clark calls by-election for May 11 Add to ...

B.C. Premier Christy Clark says she isn't expecting a "free pass" from voters as she plunges into a by-election in Vancouver-Point Grey to win a seat in the legislature.

For some time, Ms. Clark has talked up her desire to win this seat, noting she had connections to the riding formerly held by ex-premier Gordon Campbell, who represented it from 1996 until this year.

On Wednesday, she announced a May 11 vote, promising a full-fledged effort to win the support of voters there.

"I am going to be in the riding of Vancouver-Point Grey working to win every single vote," Ms. Clark told reporters at a news conference, promising an effort akin to her successful bid to become B.C. Liberal Leader.

She did not hold Wednesday's announcement in the actual riding, but at cabinet offices downtown.

The former education minister returned to politics last year after a five-year absence, and has said she wants to be in the legislature for the session that runs from April 27 until June 2.

"I don't think it's going to be a free pass. I don't think it's going to be easy. I am going to have to work hard. I am going to have to earn those votes, and I think we will be talking a lot about government policies - some that are current, like raising the minimum wage; some that are historic or older ones like the HST."

Ms. Clark said she hoped voters would give her and her government credit for changes introduced since she was sworn in as Premier last month, including a hike in the minimum wage and a review of B.C. Hydro rates.

"We have begun, I think, to change the way that the government relates to voters. We are starting the process of creating a much more open government, a government that really listens to people," she said.

B.C. New Democrats have vowed to wage a tough campaign, noting that voters in the riding will be the first in the province to cast ballots on a government that has faced such controversies as the harmonized sales tax. The New Democrats recently announced a province-wide fundraising effort to raise money for the looming fight against the Premier and the B.C. Liberals in Vancouver-Point Grey.

David Eby, executive director of the B.C. Civil Liberties Association, said shortly after the Premier's news conference, that he will take an unpaid leave from his job at the non-partisan organization to run against Ms. Clark after being courted by the NDP riding association.

Mr. Eby said his campaign was a chance to send a strong message, "win or lose."

He said he looks forward to raising issues such as the controversial harmonized sales tax, health care, and the environment - notably Ms. Clark's strong support for the Prosperity Mine.

"I understand I am the underdog because she is the Premier," he said.

Mr. Eby has been a visible figure in B.C., commenting on various issues in his role at the civil liberties association, but said he has not been a member of the New Democrats for many years because the association is non-partisan, as was a previous legal group with which he was involved.

For now, he said he had been a New Democrat for 20 days.

Like Ms. Clark, Mr. Eby does not live in the riding, but said "I'll be sleeping there tonight."

He said he has sold his condo, is renting a space in the riding and, win or lose, plans to move there. The Premier, referring to her connections to the riding, noted that her young son goes to school there and that she has done community work in Vancouver-Point Grey.

 

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