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The Globe and Mail

From a 'fudge-it budget' to Sunday drinking

Glen Clark addresses the crowd at his party's policy convention in Vancouver, Mar.1 1997.

Arlen Redekop/ The Canadian Press/Arlen Redekop/ The Canadian Press

15 years ago

April 24-30, 1996

Clark campaigns on balanced budget claims

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B.C. Premier Glen Clark called a provincial election on Tuesday, just hours after his government tabled a phantom budget calling for a wide-ranging tax freeze and billions in new spending.

But instead of debating and approving the new budget in the legislature, Mr. Clark promised the government's fiscal plan will be passed into law "unchanged" if his party comes out on top in the May 28 vote.

During the campaign, all government spending will be approved by cabinet-ordered special warrants, the Premier said.

In her budget speech on Tuesday morning, Finance Minister Elizabeth Cull said the government ran a balanced budget in 1995-96, and forecast a $25-million surplus for 1996-97. Opposition parties accused her of overestimating revenues and hiding more than $300-million in provincial debt.

Since he was sworn in as Premier in February, Mr. Clark has announced more than $2-billion in spending on health-care, education, social programs and infrastructure projects.

Big-ticket items have included $490-million for early crime prevention in elementary schools and $453-million worth of highway projects.

Flash forward: Revelations that the NDP actually ran a $355-million deficit in 1996-97 sparked a long-running controversy known as the "fudge-it budget" scandal.

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25 years ago

April 24-30, 1986

Sunday pub openings arrive just in time for Expo

The Bennett government lifted the province's long-standing ban on Sunday drinking this week just in time for the official opening of Expo 86.

Premier Bill Bennett's cabinet issued an order on Monday that will allow licensed establishments to serve liquor until midnight on Sundays.

The new, province-wide rules are designed to accommodate international tourists during the fair, while providing equal opportunity to pub owners in the rest of the province, said Consumer Affairs Minister Elwood Veitch.

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B.C. pub owners will also, for the first time, be permitted to serve imported draft beer during the fair, he said.

Extended bar openings in B.C. will prevent Lower Mainland residents from crossing the border to drink on Sundays, Mr. Veitch added.

Lower Mainland pub owners, who lobbied hard for the change, applauded the government's announcement, while Mothers Against Drunk Driving predicted more alcohol-related fatalities on the roads.

Mr. Veitch declined to say whether the new rules will stay in effect after the world's fair ends on Oct. 13.

Flash forward: The Social Credit government made Sunday bar openings a permanent fixture in B.C. after Bill Vander Zalm became premier in October, 1986.

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