Televised leaders debate considered ‘most important event’ in B.C. election campaign


WATCH: Political experts say Wednesday’s televised leaders debate could be a make or break moment as the spotlight shines on three party leaders. April Lawrence reports.

During a campaign stop at a Surrey paper mill, Premier Christy Clark says she wants to see thermal coal banned in B.C. in retaliation for the U.S. imposing new softwood lumber duties.

“Clearly in the last week or so and again today we see that the U.S. is taking a different approach to trade, and so I’ve written to Prime Minister Trudeau asking him to ban the shipment of all thermal coal from all ports in British Columbia,” Clark said.

Softwood lumber is a topic that will no doubt come up at Wednesday evening’s televised leaders debate.

“This debate is the single most important event in the campaign, this is going to make it or break it,” said University of Victoria political scientist Michael Prince.

The sparks flew during last week’s live radio debate, which was largely dominated by bickering between Clark and NDP leader John Horgan.

Horgan was pressing the issue of housing affordability at a campaign stop in Burnaby Wednesday.

“We’ve gathered here with some families who are struggling to find an affordable place they can call home,” Horgan told the crowd.

Prince says Horgan has likely been told to tone it down heading into Wednesday’s debate and to be clear about his message.

“So he’s got to be confident and concise and clear and convincing in what he says to the voters and he’s got to remember talk to the TV, don’t talk too much to Christy Clark,” said Prince.

BC Green Party leader Andrew Weaver sat to the side through most of the sparring last week.

“I just couldn’t believe this was the level of discourse in the Province of British Columbia,” said Weaver.

If the heated exchanges continue, Prince says Weaver has a real opportunity.

“If it’s a debate that goes nasty and harsh he may have what I call the Gordon Wilson moment from the early 90’s, where he maybe can turn to the camera and say to voters see this is why you’re so disappointed and alienated from B.C. politics,” said Prince.

Prince says there is a lot riding on on the televised debate for all three party leaders ? 15 to 20 per cent of B.C. voters are still undecided.


April LawrenceApril Lawrence

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