Premier Christy Clark appears to be fed up with politicians and bureaucrats, and wants to start engaging in conversation with voters directly about the future direction of our province.
Clark said being confined to the working world of Victoria stifled by politicians, bureaucrats, lobbyists and pundits leaves voters out of the political discourse.
“That’s how we ended up with the HST,” Clark said on Thursday during a media scrum following the opening of a new medical health sciences building on the UBC Okanagan campus. (See story page A3.)
“We need to break out of the cocoon that exists in Victoria where you come up with policies and don’t tell anyone about it outside of Victoria, so we don’t keep making the same kind of stupid mistakes.”
Clark said her five years as a radio talk show host taught her of the disconnect that exists between politicians and the voters.
“We need to talk, listen and act on what voters tell us,” Clark said.
Clark was under fire last week on two fronts. One was for cancelling the regularly scheduled fall session of the legislature, and the other was for comments she made in an interview at the end of the spring legislative session in May that were published in a National Post column last week.
In that column, she is quoted as describing the legislature as “a sick culture,” saying further that “All they can think about is government and there are no real people in Victoria, and you get captured by this inside-the-beltway debate, and it’s really unhealthy.”
Clark told the media here in Kelowna last Thursday that she might have chosen different words, but didn’t back down from the intent behind her remarks.
“People out there have some great ideas, and government has to take the time to listen,” she said.
Her comments drew an immediate response from the NDP on Thursday afternoon, as NDP house leader John Horgan said her comments about Victoria’s “sick culture” were unwarranted.
“The premier’s offensive comments regarding people that live in Victoria have gone from bad to worse,” Horgan said. “The premier is now blaming the HST on what she calls the sick people of Victoria. She should be apologizing for her comments, and finally taking responsibility for the Liberal government’s HST deception and millions of public dollars wasted on HST propaganda during their watch.”
Clark also addressed the current stalemate in contract talks with BCGEU members, saying the zero wage increase mandate remains unchanged.
“There is no more money,” Clark said regarding wage increases for unionized civil servants.
“We can’t afford it. You just have to look at the private sector where people are taking wage rollbacks…people in the public sector have to get used to that reality.”
Clark added that any efficiencies found in government departments means savings that will be put towards wage increases for staff.
But she reiterated, “it’s not going to cost the taxpayer one penny” extra regarding a contract settlement with the BCGEU.