NDP leader John Horgan, B.C. LIberal leader Christy Clark and B.C. Green leader Andrew Weaver debate in Vancouver Thursday. (News1130)

ELECTION 2017: Christy Clark, John Horgan and Andrew Weaver square off in first debate

Taxes, road tolls hot issues for B.C. Greens, B.C. Liberals, B.C. NDP

Third in a series of Black Press B.C. election coverage leading up to May 9

WATCH: Post-debate press conference

B.C.’s party leaders faced each other for the first time in an election debate Thursday in Vancouver.

B.C. Liberal leader Christy Clark, B.C. NDP leader John Horgan and B.C. Green Party leader Andrew Weaver met at CITY-TV for the first of two broadcast debates, this one also broadcast on News1130 radio.

READ: B.C. parties square off on schools

Clark and Horgan clashed immediately on their competing plans to reduce and eliminate Medical Services Plan fees. Clark referred to NDP finance critic Carole James’ comment the previous day that the revenue of more than $1 billion a year would be shifted to the “progressive” tax system. Horgan said that does not mean moving the cost onto the income tax system.

Mental health and addictions prompted another sharp exchange, with Horgan repeatedly interrupting Clark.

Weaver agreed with Horgan on the proposal to create a new ministry responsible for mental health and addictions.

Clark defended her proposal to put a $500 annual cap on road tolls paid to use the Port Mann and Golden Ears bridge. Asked by moderator Bill Good why the tolls are being limited just before the May 9 election, Clark said it’s “because we can afford it” due to strong economic performance and controlling expenditures.

READ: What’s up with BC Hydro rates?

Horgan has promised to eliminate tolls, replacing the revenues for three years by using Clark’s “fake prosperity fund” that took increasing MSP revenue and called it liquefied natural gas revenues.

Weaver said road tolls are good public policy and he would keep them in place. He said communities outside Metro Vancouver should also pay tolls as users of major infrastructure projects.

Clark defended her government’s record on creating new child care spaces, promising to fund construction of 4,000 more and predicting that the federal government will fund a similar amount in the coming years.

Horgan called it an “ad hoc” approach, and promoted his plan to create a $10-a-day universal child care system within 10 years.

“You’re not going to deliver it until those kids have their driver’s licence,” Clark replied, warning of the problems encountered when Quebec introduced universal daycare.

There was no discussion of Weaver’s proposal to provide no-cost daycare for children up to two years old, and expand kindergarten to three- and four-year-olds. Weaver is the last party leader to release a costed platform, expected this week.

Good asked each candidate about the pending legalization of marijuana. Clark suggested Horgan plans to side with the B.C. Government Employees’ Union and retail pot through liquor stores. Horgan said he has talked with marijuana dispensary owners, pharmacists and liquor retailers, and said it will “probably be a mix.”

Weaver said Ottawa’s plan to legalize is leaning toward large corporate providers, and he favours “craft cannabis” similar to local beer, as long as there is effective control to prevent minors from buying it.

Just Posted

Okanagan a hot spot for film industry

Despite wet, smoky year Okanagan attracts $30 million in film production

Loaded shotgun found in vehicle during Okanagan Falls traffic stop

Okanagan Falls man facing a number of weapons related charges

Washroom blaze at Princess Maggie

Fire crews say the fire appears to have started in the washroom’s garbage bin

Penticton businesses in the running for Small Business BC Awards

Two Penticton businesses have made it to the finals of the 15th Annual Small Business BC Awards

B.C.’s biggest pot plant planned for Oliver

Co-founder Tony Holler said the 700,000 sq. ft. facility would produce 100,000 kg of pot per year

ExpOCP kicks off with a packed house

Penticton trying to make community engagement more engaging

World’s fastest log car made in B.C. sells for $350,000 US

Cedar Rocket auctioned off three times at Barrett-Jackson Co., netting $350,000 US for veterans

Bad timing: Shutdown spoils Trump’s one-year festivities

Trump spends day trying to hash out a deal with Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer

RCMP nail sex toy thief

Shop owner plays a role in arrest

Ice-cream-eating bear draws controversy

An Alberta Wildlife Park posted a video this week of one of their bears going through a Dairy Queen drive-through

Fernie, RCMP go to court over city log books in fatal ammonia leak probe

Log books center stage in clashing of investigations between the city and RCMP

TGIF: South Okanagan events

Live theatre, concerts, events, art exhibits and more from around the South Okanagan

High-end whisky seized in B.C. bar raids

Raids end in seizures at Victoria, Nanaimo and Vancouver whisky joints

Train derails in Northwest B.C.

CN reports no injuries or dangerous goods involved after coal train derailment.

Most Read