Christy Clark and Adrian Dix battled it out over newly released job numbers on Friday, with Ms. Clark saying statistics showing that nearly 10,000 more British Columbians were employed in April than in March of this year is an example of why people need to elect a Liberal government on May 14. Mr. Dix was quick to counter his opponent, pointing out that B.C. has lagged behind other provinces under the Liberals.
Statistics Canada's Labour Force Survey, released Friday, shows that B.C.'s job creation was second to only Manitoba from March to April.
"We need to keep pushing the number of jobs up. We have a plan and its working. We need to stick to it," Ms. Clark said at a campaign event at the Port of Vancouver. "No. 2 is not where I want to be. I want this province to be No. 1 in job creation, and we have a lot more to do to making sure we're putting people across this province to work."
Ms. Clark and the Liberals have run a campaign almost entirely focused on strengthening the economy, and have repeatedly said that an NDP government under Adrian Dix would pose a danger to economic growth. They have heavily criticized the NDP position on resource development, including liquefied natural gas, saying the party has not been clear on where they stand.
Ms. Clark said that over the course of the campaign she's heard just how important LNG development is to local economies.
"Shipping natural gas overseas means creating 100,000 new jobs for B.C. families, and $100-billion of revenue for our prosperity fund that will make B.C. debt-free in 15 years," Ms. Clark said. "I say yes to growing our economy. Adrian Dix says no … Weak leadership means a weak economy, and that's what you'll get with Adrian Dix and the NDP."
With the Port of Vancouver as her backdrop, Ms. Clark also talked about the recent addition of 900 longshore jobs across the province. She also emphasized how the Liberals are continuing to work with local communities at expanding and opening mines, and how the province now has 250 fully functioning forestry mills.
Mr. Dix on Thursday said the picture isn't a rosy as Ms. Clark is presenting, saying one of the key issues is that B.C remains eighth in job growth despite the Liberal jobs plan launched in 2011.
"Everybody can see that who has access to the Internet," Mr. Dix quipped during a rally in a Victoria-area park, flanked by NDP candidates and supporters.
The NDP leader also decried the loss of 44,000 private-sector jobs.
"Generally when a jobs plan fails, you don't advertise it. You don't spend $16-million advertising it. That's what they did."
But Mr. Dix was pressed by a reporter on how many jobs he could guarantee were he elected premier next week.
"It's very challenging in B.C.," he said. "The fact is we're eighth in Canada and we have to do better."
Without providing details, he said his solution would be "saying yes" to forestry, film and TV production, tourism and other sectors he accused the Liberals of neglecting.
Asked, in general, about polls, Mr. Dix said he had no regrets about the campaign he has run.
"I am very proud of our strategy," he said.
Mr. Dix said he had expected, since running for the leadership of the New Democrats, that the race was going to be close as it came to a head.
However, he said he expected the NDP would have an edge.
"If people want change in B.C, they have to vote NDP," he said.