VANCOUVER – Christy Clark started her first day as premier-designate Sunday at her son’s hockey game, with plans to appoint a cabinet, move the referendum on the harmonized sales tax up to June, and win a seat in a by-election as soon as possible.
Clark won the B.C. Liberal leadership vote Saturday, with a narrow victory over Surrey-Cloverdale MLA Kevin Falcon on the third round of voting.
After the final vote result was revealed at the Vancouver convention centre, Clark invited her rival candidates and the rest of the B.C. Liberal MLAs up on stage and promised to work together as a team.
Clark said she respects their decision to support other candidates – only Burnaby-Lougheed MLA Harry Bloy endorsed her – and she looks forward to building on the legacy of Premier Gordon Campbell.
In her speech, Clark stressed her campaign theme of families.
“My commitment to putting families first starts with job creation and fighting poverty,” Clark said. “These are going to be the top priorities for our government.”
Interim NDP leader Dawn Black issued a statement congratulating Clark, and urging her to call the legislature back into session immediately.
“Specifically, she needs to table legislation moving up the HST referendum, establish an independent third party review of the $6 million payoff to the B.C. Liberal insiders in the B.C. Rail corruption trial, and table a new budget that invests in people, creates jobs, and helps B.C. families make ends meet,” Black said.
On the third and final ballot, Clark received 4,420 votes using the party’s weighted voting system. After third-place contender George Abbott dropped off the ballot, Falcon finished with 4,080 points, 48 per cent of party support to Clark’s 52 per cent.
Clark held the lead after two rounds of voting in the B.C. Liberal leadership contest, with 3,575 points, followed by Falcon with 2,564 and Abbott with 2,364.
The point totals after the first round were 789 for Abbotsford West MLA Mike de Jong, 2,091 for Shuswap MLA Abbott, 2,411 for Falcon and 3,209 for Clark.
The B.C. Liberal Party scrambled to find a system to get personal identification numbers to members who didn’t get them in the mail.
After mailing delays were reported around the province, the party and its vote contractor Intelivote Systems Inc. of Halifax put on extra call centre staff to relay PIN numbers to those who didn’t get them.
Party president Mickey Patryluk said the turnout was 62 per cent of the nearly 90,000 members.