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B.C. Premier Christy Clark at Government House in Victoria March 14, 2011. (John Lehmann/The Globe and Mail/John Lehmann/The Globe and Mail)
B.C. Premier Christy Clark at Government House in Victoria March 14, 2011. (John Lehmann/The Globe and Mail/John Lehmann/The Globe and Mail)

With stability, Clark aims to advance agenda with Ottawa Add to ...

Premier Christy Clark is hoping a stable majority in Ottawa will allow British Columbia to make advances on issues of mutual interest with the federal government.

Although she did not mention it specifically Tuesday in the aftermath of a Conservative majority election victory, one such issue could be talks on repaying $1.6-billion in federal compensation for adopting the HST if the tax is defeated in a referendum this summer.

Ms. Clark has said she expects tough negotiations to see if B.C could get some kind of break in paying back the money.

But there's a long list of other issues on the Victoria-Ottawa agenda, including continued spending on infrastructure to support Asia-Pacific trade, harmonization of federal-provincial environmental assessment processes, and B.C. getting a fairer share of seats in Parliament.

Ms. Clark said a majority government for the Conservatives likely means a period of productive stability.

"We're probably less likely to get into another federal election anytime soon. There's stability that comes from that," Ms. Clark told reporters after an unrelated news conference at Mount Seymour.

"Long-term planning is important in a democracy, but you're limited, right? You're limited to four-year terms. When that becomes a two-year term, it makes it a lot harder to plan forward.

"So just in terms of our working relationship, it means we're going to have a lot more ability to plan and I think that's going to be good for all of the provinces across the country."

Ms. Clark suggested that she had a number of conversations with government MPs in British Columbia on election night as results were confirmed.

"We all agreed we are going to fight for B.C.'s interests and I think we're in a great position to do it," she said.

Ms. Clark is considering the timetable for a provincial election sooner than the legislatively scheduled 2013 in order to get her own mandate. Such a vote might come as early as this fall.

But she suggested she is not worried about the surge in support for the federal NDP having some impact on the B.C. political scene. New Democrats won three more seats in B.C., bringing their total to 12 of 36.

"The NDP didn't really have a surge in British Columbia. They had a little bit of a bump, but we didn't see the surge here we saw in other provinces," she said.

"One of the interesting things for all of us to watch will be how the NDP changes now that they are now a Quebec-based party," she said. NDP support in Quebec grew from one MP to 58, representing more than half its caucus. "There was certainly a surge for the New Democrats but it was almost all based in Quebec," Ms. Clark said.

During her remarks, Ms. Clark repeatedly said credited British Columbia with giving the Conservatives a majority, although the feat more accurately was clinched with the party's breakthrough in Ontario.

Ms. Clark said she was mindful of the losses for all parties in Monday's vote, which saw such veteran members as Ujjal Dosanjh and Gary Lunn defeated.

She said she had spoken to a number of winners, including rookie Green MP Elizabeth May - and losers - such as Mr. Dosanjh.

Ms. Clark, who once lost a bid to become Vancouver mayor, said she finds it heartrending to watch any politician lose, but new options generally open up.

"Politics is not a career. And that is the thing that every politician is, I think, well advised to remember. I don't think of it as a career. I don't think of it as something I am going to do for the rest of my life.

"I don't think that any politician should think of it that way. It's public service, but it's not public service forever."

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