Don’t expect to see too much of Christy Clark here in the last weeks of the election campaign.
Clark, who as B.C. Premier and leader of the B.C. Liberal Party has a punishing travel schedule lined up across the province between now and election day May 9, is not expected to spend a great deal of time in the riding in which she is running for re-election—Kelowna-West.
But according to her campaign staff, she will be in town for at least one all-candidates’ meeting, likely later next week.
Her campaign staff say her calendar is currently being juggled to make time for an appearance in the riding.
Her campaign has ruled out her participation at the upcoming Kelowna-West all candidate’s meeting scheduled for Monday, May 1, being put on by the Greater Westside Board of Trade. However, Kelowna radio station AM1150 is planning an all-candidates broadcast later in the week that Clark may participate in.
One of her two local running mates—either Kelowna-Mission Liberal candidate Steve Thomson or Kelowna-Lake Country candidate Norm Letnick—is expected to fill in for her at Monday’s event in West Kelowna.
Clark has not made any campaign appearances in the riding since the election writ was dropped April 11.
Clark is trying to hold the Kelowna-West riding for the Liberals, a riding she won easily in a byelection in 2013 when it was known as Westside-Kelowna. In this election she is being challenged by the NDP’s Shelley Cook, B.C. Green Robert Mellalieu and independent candidate Brian Thiesen.
In the 2013 provincial election Clark lost her Vancouver-area seat to NDP challenger David Eby despite leading her party to an unexpected win and another majority government. A few weeks after the 2013 election, successful Westside-Kelowna Liberal Ben Stewart stepped down to allow Clark to run here.
As premier, Clark has already had to take time out of the campaign to deal with the recent imposition of tariffs by the U.S. on Canadian softwood lumber, an issue that also took Thomson, B.C.’s forest, lands and natural resources minister away from his re-election campaign in Kelowna-Mission.
While MLAs terms end when the election writ is issued and do not start until they are re-elected, the premier and cabinet ministers continue in those jobs during an election campaign period because government must continue to function.
Asked prior to the campaign about her absences from the riding required by her provincial and party leadership duties, Clark said she appreciated her constituents understanding that as premier she is not a typical MLA and must be out of the riding a great deal. But she said she tries to come back as much as possible and she has a home in West Kelowna.
Her absence is also expected to be noticed here on election night—regardless of whether she is re-elected or her party holds on to power.
Currently, according to her campaign, the plan is that Clark will be in Vancouver on election night, where the main B.C. Liberal election gathering will take place.
Asked if she would consider moving the event to Kelowna, a member of her campaign said that’s unlikely.
“That show is just to big to take on the road,” he said.