Canada Clark, Horgan get personal in scrappy leaders debate

16:45  21 april  2017
16:45  21 april  2017 Source:   Vancouver Sun

B.C. NDP offers up yearly $400 rent rebate

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B.C.’s election campaign veered sharply into personal attacks and name-calling on Thursday, in a confrontational first leaders ’ debate . The B.C. Liberal, NDP and Green campaigns accused each other of dragging the debate into the mud during a raucous first 30 minutes in which NDP Leader John

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B.C.’s election campaign veered sharply into personal attacks and name-calling on Thursday, in a confrontational first leaders’ debate.

The B.C. Liberal, NDP and Green campaigns accused each other of dragging the debate into the mud during a raucous first 30 minutes in which NDP Leader John Horgan proved the most aggressive — some might argue too aggressive — debater of the trio.

It started with Horgan defending his party’s platform as fully costed, a day after the Liberals accused him of more than $6 billion in improperly costed promises. 

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“That is just not true though. … The NDP plan is not costed,” said Liberal Leader Christy Clark. “Just 14 of the promises that they laid out were costed, it’s a $6 billion hole in that. And yesterday.”

“Yesterday, your finance minister made an embarrassment of himself,” interjected Horgan, referring to a press conference in which Mike de Jong was challenged by reporters for incorrectly summarizing the NDP platform.

“Whenever she gets in a corner she makes stuff up, and this is why British Columbians have no confidence in the B.C. Liberals,” said Horgan.

“You’ve got to use some real facts, not alternative facts. Where is (White House press secretary) Sean Spicer? Is he going to be rolling in here any minute now?”

Housing, economy feature in final B.C. debate

  Housing, economy feature in final B.C. debate Housing, economy feature in final B.C. debateLiberal Leader Christy Clark is trying to maintain her party's 16-year grip on power and while her record was a target for her opponents, Clark was also on the offensive as she took shots at the NDP and Green party's financial policies as a risk to an economy that has led growth across the country.

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“Mr. Horgan, we didn’t make up five balanced budgets,” replied Clark.

At one point during another testy exchange, Clark turned to Horgan and said, “Calm down, John,” before briefly placing her hand on his arm. 

“The premier kept wanting to poke and poke,” Horgan told media afterwards. “She was physically pushing me. What was I supposed to do?”

Clark said she wasn’t trying to offend him, though her campaign did immediately launch a coordinated Twitter campaign using the hashtag #CalmDownJohn.

For Horgan, the event marked his most high-profile appearance so far and a chance to introduce himself to voters. He was left to walk a careful line between being critical of Clark’s premiership and appearing too aggressive or mean.

New Democrats immediately hailed Horgan’s performance as that of a champion and fighter for the common person, who is fed up by 16 years of Liberal government. He vigorously attacked the Liberal record on housing affordability, seniors care homes, education underfunding, the Site C dam project and transportation projects like a bridge to replace the Massey tunnel.

Post-debate poll: Horgan wins — but only by a slim margin

  Post-debate poll: Horgan wins — but only by a slim margin Post-debate poll: Horgan wins — but only by a slim marginWith no major flubs or knock-out punches during the only televised leaders’ debate of the election campaign, B.C. residents say the NDP’s John Horgan won the night — but only by a slim margin.

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Liberals accused him of condescendingly talking down to a strong female leader (a term called “mansplaining”). B.C. Green Leader Andrew Weaver, who was at times drowned out by the bickering, said both leaders were disrespectful. “It’s not my style,” he told media, after. “I thought it was pretty petty actually.”

The performance was contrary to the debate preparation Horgan had received, in which he was encouraged to stay calm, face the camera and stick clearly to his messaging. 

Instead, Horgan often turned to physically confront Clark, interrupted her, clashed with moderator Bill Good over whether he was receiving equal response time and appeared exasperated by Clark’s answers.

“If you want to just keep doing your thing, I will watch you for awhile, I know you like that,” he said at one point when Clark interrupted him. Horgan later said he was trying to portray her as someone who likes being fromnt-and-centre in frequent photo-ops.

Both campaigns will now try to capitalize upon the momentum they believe was generated by their leader.

Clark followed up the debate by holding a rally at a construction firm associated with the bridge project, wearing a blue hard hat. She used the project — which the NDP have not said they’d support — as a rallying cry for building the province and investing in jobs. Horgan headed to Victoria for an evening rally.

Jobs, affordability big promises in B.C. election .
Jobs, affordability big promises in B.C. electionCampaigning in the Kootenays, B.C. Liberal Leader Christy Clark repeated her party's promise to protect jobs in resource industries like forestry and mining.

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