Former B.C. premier Christy Clark, departing provincial politics this week after resigning as Liberal leader and as an MLA, says her party's successor will not be bound by a Throne Speech from her government that adopted ideas from the New Democrats and the Green Party.
"My successor will be able to do whatever she or he chooses to do without me interfering in that, and they are going to do that with the caucus and the party," Ms. Clark said on Monday at what was likely her final news conference as party leader before exiting on Aug. 4. "I look forward to seeing what they choose to do."
Ms. Clark, who was first elected to the legislature in 1996 and served as premier for the past six years, said one thing is clear for now: "I am done with public life. Politics isn't a happy job. It's not a fun job, really. It's a fulfilling job and it's really interesting and I loved doing it."
In a bid to remain in office, Ms. Clark's beleaugered Liberals, reduced to a minority in the May election, tabled a Throne Speech in June that offered a wholesale remake of the party's election campaign. It came as defeat in the legislature became a near certainty.
The Liberals promised to ban corporate and union donations, hold a referendum on electoral reform, eliminate or work to eliminate tolls on a pair of Lower Mainland bridges, and increase the carbon tax. These were among other pledges that were either not in their platform or borrowed from the other parties.
Ms. Clark said Liberals may support "some of the same principles" as the NDP, but have different approaches.
She cited the NDP's commitment to $10-per-day daycare. "That's not a good plan. But there is a good plan we can come up with to expand daycare for people."
The NDP and the Greens ousted the Liberals in a confidence vote and the Lieutenant-Governor asked the New Democrats to form a new government with Green support. John Horgan is now Premier and the Liberals find themselves out of power for the first time in 16 years.
Last Friday, during a caucus meeting in Penticton, Ms. Clark announced she was resigning her leadership and her Kelowna-area seat. She was an MLA from 1996 until 2005, serving in opposition and then in cabinet in Gordon Campbell's government. She became a radio talk-show host after leaving politics in 2005, but returned to win the Liberal leadership in 2011.
In her first public comments on her pending departure, Ms. Clark said she knew, on election night, that it was time to go – a feeling that intensified as the Lieutenant-Governor asked Mr. Horgan to form government.
However, she said she felt that she had to stay on temporarily to help the party's MLAs shift into a new role as the opposition. "It's going to be an adjustment for our party and our caucus," she said. "They're going to have to find some new energy."
In Penticton, she said she asked her caucus whether they wanted her to stay or go. "Every single person in the room asked me to stay," she said. But Ms. Clark said she realized it was finally time to exit – a conclusion she reached during a lakeside walk on Friday morning.
She said she calculated that an election is not imminent, so that gives the party time to pick a new leader. "Part of my decision was figuring out when is the best time for this to happen? Is it two years from now when an election is more likely or is it now when it is least likely.
"I really felt it was best for our party and our province to get it out of the way as soon as we could."
Rich Coleman, named by caucus as the interim leader, said on Monday that he has asked caucus members to report back on their preferred critics assignments, and is working on staffing issues for the opposition. "I'm pretty sure I can have this thing operating by the end of the week," he said in an interview.
The former deputy premier noted that three of the 43 members of the Liberal caucus – himself, former finance minister Mike de Jong and former speaker Linda Reid – have experience in opposition to offer their fellow Liberal MLAs. "These guys are ready to go to work," Mr. Coleman said.
During her news conference, Ms. Clark's teenaged son, Hamish, who stood alongside his mother, offered rare public comment. "She's been premier for most of my life that I can remember, so I think it's going to be an interesting change," he said.