I was given the privilege of interviewing Premier Christy Clark before the town hall meeting in Cranbrook last Thursday.
A plane delay put her behind schedule yet she still allowed enough time to privately conduct the interview before addressing the large crowd patiently waiting for her.
It was a pleasant surprise to hear later that she made mention of being with me and eating “delicious cookies” adding, “well, I understand everyone knows Mary.”
While that’s not true it’s a sure thing that everyone knows Premier Clark. Premier Clark has a history of community involvement especially in regards to families and children, implementing an anti-bullying Pink Shirt campaign. She was awarded the YWCA Woman of Distinction award, was 2009 Woman of the Year in B.C. by Consumer Choice Awards and was a popular radio show host, columnist for the Vancouver Sun and The Province and election analyst for Global B.C. and CTV News in the 2006 Federal Election.
She was Minister of Education and Minister of Children and Families Development and deputy premier in the Campbell government,. She took a break from politics in 2004. She is the second woman to serve as premier after Rita Johnston in 1991 and the fourth woman in Canadian history to serve as a provincial premier and eighth woman overall to be a first minister. This is a high accomplishment for someone so young.
She was born on October 29, 1965 in Burnaby to her father Jim, a teacher and her mother Mavis, a family counsellor. She lost her dad to an accident caused by a health incident when he was in his 60s and her mother more recently to illness. Premier Clark said that she brought her mother home with her to provide the care needed, explaining that this experience was a time of growth and a great gift from her mother.
Asked about being a single parent, she replied that she was fortunate that she and her son’s father each have him one week at a time, adding that she had taken her son to school that morning and would be home to pick him up from a game and cook dinner for him. She said she understands the impact that lack of childcare makes to families and will be looking into this issue. Asked if being deputy premier in the Campbell government was helping her now she replied, “yes, it is.”
I commented about sending a congratulatory note to her office, that my message had been acknowledged with thanks. She said, “if someone cares enough to write, then government should care enough to respond.” She stated how important it is that government listens to the people, stating the years working on her radio show demonstrated how valuable this was. “It’s the way to reflect people’s priorities when you listen to what they have to say,” she said.
Regarding the HST, “we have plans to reduce it to 10 per cent but right away the NDP came out saying the Liberals can’t be trusted.” They will fix it but need to negotiate with the federal government, something they will do as soon as the referendum is over if the HST survives.
In the short time she has been premier, Clark has increased the minimum wage and tax credits and installed a smaller cabinet of 18. “That cuts costs and shows respect for the hard earned tax dollars citizens provide to government.” She is attending town hall meetings across B.C. so she can hear first hand from citizens.
Our new premier is charming, friendly and very articulate, coming across as a warm, caring individual. On speaking with business people later in the day comments were made that the HST was a disaster for B.C. regardless of which way it went. Some say the real estate market has been hit directly causing investors to bypass the Kootenays in favour of the U.S.A., impacting the construction industry greatly.
A local restaurant owner said their business has been hit threefold, the HST, the alcohol ruling and increased minimum wage. “If the HST is repealed there is no way B.C. can have a balanced budget, we will be three billion dollars in the hole,” commented another local businessman.
There is no doubt Premier Clark is sincere in wanting to fix that which needs fixing but there is a great deal of skepticism by some as to whether what’s needed is doable.