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B.C. Premier Christy Clark is leading an effort by Western premiers to take over immigration in a bid to manage its growing skills shortage.

Chad Hipolito/The Globe and Mail

Premier Christy Clark has until April 7 to call a by-election in Port Moody-Coquitlam. Liberal MLA Iain Black quit on Oct. 1. "For those keeping track, that's five months and counting that residents of the riding have been without elected representation," says The Tri-City News of Port Moody, Port Coquitlam and Coquitlam. It appears the by-election was not called sooner because the B.C. Conservatives were snapping at the Liberals' heels, public school teachers' contract negotiations ended in unpopular legislation and the B.C. Place naming deal came to a messy end, the paper says. Waiting to call the by-election for political, not practical reasons, "is a disgrace," the newspaper says. The vote will be held four weeks after the by-election is finally called.

Chilliwack-Hope is also waiting for Ms. Clark to set a date for a by-election. Liberal MLA Barry Penner stepped down in January. The by-election must be called by July 30. Robert Freeman in The Chilliwack Progress reports that the Independent Contractors and Business Association has not waited for the by-election to start campaigning. The association has run negative ads on a local radio station, slamming NDP leader Adrian Dix, the paper says. Association president Philip Hochstein was quoted in the newspaper as saying voters have to understand a vote for the NDP will clear the way for Mr. Dix to become premier. "He's a hard left politician ... all he ever talks about is income re-distribution from the private to public sector," he told the newspaper. "That hurts small family-owned businesses."


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Raise the legal age to drive in B.C. to at least 18, says a Black Press editorial in the Abbotsford News. The suggestion was made in response to the death of a teenage boy who died in a head-on collision in Maple Ridge. Dawson Spencer, 17, was violating conditions of his learning permit, driving a mini-van with two male passengers. The van crossed the centre line and collided with a car carrying three young girls, one of whom also died. The newspaper says the teenaged youth should not have been driving after midnight, based on restrictions under ICBC's graduated licensing program, and should not have had passengers with him. The graduated licensing program does not go far enough, the newspaper says. "Teens can't vote or drink until they're 19; a 16-year-old can't even see an R-rated movie alone. Yet, they can drive dad's car," the newspaper says.


As opposition grows to Enbridge's Northern gateway pipeline across northern B.C., the Terrace Standard proposes a referendum in Terrace to find out whether the municipal council's formal opposition represents the views of the majority. The vote was an endorsement of two motions of the Union of B.C. Municipalities (UBCM) passed 18 months ago, not "a courageous stand against dark corporate forces," the paper says. Comments by city councillors James Cordeiro and Marylin Davies further muddied the situation. They spoke of risk versus benefit. "Was their vote then based on the potential of environmental harm ... or as free enterprisers, did they feel there was simply not enough oil money flowing to Terrace? In any event, there remains the question of whether council's vote actually represents the majority of its citizens.... A referendum may be the only method of determining public acceptance or rejection."


It's hard to separate fact from innuendo and rumour in the variety of different stories offered by the B.C. Liberal government about the botched deal with Telus over naming rights of B.C. Place stadium, says an editorial in Kamloops This Week "It is sufficient to note the government has snubbed B.C.'s largest private-sector employer, caused confusion in professional sports ranks and demonstrated that it can't make basic decisions in a straightforward manner. None of this inspires confidence," the newspaper says.

The Daily Courier says the B.C. government should level with taxpayers about what went wrong in the negotiations over naming rights. "All we've received so far are vague statements and obfuscations," the paper says, dismissing explanations offered so far by the government as silly. "The government wouldn't elaborate on what the contentious issues were. It's all excuses being offered by our provincial leaders. And we don't believe any of them, so far. So tell us what really happened. After all, we're the ones who'll pay the bill for this failure."


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Meanwhile, in federal politics...

Mark Walker, the publisher of the Penticton Western News , dismissed the controversy over robo-calls, the automatic phone calls in some ridings in last year's federal election that redirected voters to the wrong polling stations. "It is a story that is entirely media driven, and one for which there is no evidence and very little fact," he writes. "Harper's Conservatives represent the antithesis of the values held by most members in our media. The media campaigned actively against Harper in May, promoting Michell Ignatieff despite his clear inability to lead, and actually cheerleading for Jack Layton's NDP... Much of the national media has still not got over the fact that Canadians ignored their message and voted for a Conservative majority," Mr. Walker writes.

Elections Canada investigated complaints following the election and found none directly perpetrated by the Conservatives, and none that affected the outcome of any local election, he says. "There is no scandal, no evidence and no wrongdoing – yet the national media persists in pushing the story," he says.

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