The slow start in selecting B.C. Liberal candidates on Vancouver Island is a deliberate and “staged” strategy to unveil the best candidates possible, says Premier Christy Clark.
The Liberal party launches its pre-election campaign today in Vancouver, but has yet to nominate candidates in seven of 14 Vancouver Island ridings.
“We’ve staged all of this to do it in order,” Clark told reporters Friday, after a speech to the Comox Valley Chamber of Commerce. “We don’t do them all at once. So there are still ridings across the province where we’re nominating.
“The thing that we’ve done differently from our opponents is we’ve not gone out there in a willy-nilly rush to nominate just anybody who’d stepped forward. We have people who are interested in running in every single riding across the province, but my job is to make sure we field the absolute best candidates we could find.”
There are 80 days until the May 14 provincial election. Under law, formal campaigning begins 28 days before voting day.
The NDP currently holds 10 of 14 Island seats, and many of its candidates have been in place for more than a year, after Clark hinted at a possible snap election in the fall of 2011.
The premier visited the riding of Comox Valley Liberal MLA and Education Minister Don McRae on Friday, where she said a planned $600 million for two North Island hospitals is a large investment by her government for people in the region.
“I don’t believe this is going to be a really difficult election campaign for Don,” she said of McRae’s re-election chances in Courtenay and Comox.
The Liberals have yet to name candidates in Alberni-Pacific Rim, Juan de Fuca, Nanaimo, Nanaimo North-Cowichan, Saanich North and the Islands, Saanich South and Victoria-Beacon Hill.
The party’s slow start has some political watchers wondering if there is disorganization within the Liberal campaign, or difficulty attracting Island candidates. Party officials have said neither is an issue.
The Liberal pre-campaign launch coincides with a meeting of the party’s provincial council.
The NDP provincial council also meets this weekend, but the Opposition is not branding it as a pre-campaign kick-off.
The B.C. Green Party launched its campaign Friday at the H.R. MacMillan Space Centre in Vancouver.
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