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Without a seat, B.C. premier to lead Liberals from the sidelines

Premier Christy Clark.

John Lehmann/The Globe and Mail/John Lehmann/The Globe and Mail

British Columbia politicians returned to the provincial legislature Wednesday, but Premier Christy Clark had to lead her Liberals from the sidelines.

Ms. Clark is campaigning to win a seat in a May 11 by-election in the riding vacated by her predecessor, Gordon Campbell, but until then she cannot participate in Question Period or debates.

The expected six-week sitting is slated to end on June 2.

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Ms. Clark, who was chosen B.C. Liberal Leader in February, said she plans to spend some of her time at the legislature but will also travel the province to meet British Columbians in their home communities.

She said it is important to be in Victoria where decisions are made, but it is also an excellent time for her to meet residents.

"I don't intend to be just in Vancouver and Victoria," said Ms. Clark. "I want to be in Burns Lake; I want to be in Prince Rupert; I want to be in the Peace Country; I want to be in the Interior. My priority as Premier is to be actually outside of Victoria and listening to British Columbians."

The Opposition NDP welcomed its new leader, Adrian Dix, to the legislature. The Vancouver New Democrat won the party's leadership vote earlier this month.

Mr. Dix succeeds Carole James, who announced her resignation last December after a bitter party feud over her leadership. Ms. James was not at the legislature Wednesday.

The first Question Period of the session was dominated by the harmonized sales tax. The government tabled legislation for a mail-in referendum that will decide the future of the 12-per-cent tax. Ballots will be mailed out this June and July, with results expected in August.

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