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VIDEO: 'Strong Economy, Secure Tomorrow': The Christy Clark TV special recap

Watch "Strong Economy, Secure Tomorrow" in full above.

Pamela Martin is not running for the BC Liberals in the May 14 election, but the ex-news anchorwoman certainly got enough facetime on Sunday.

Martin, Premier Christy Clark's $130,000-a-year director of outreach, was the host of the BC Liberals' Strong Economy, Secure Tomorrow infomercial at 7 p.m. April 14 to kick-off the BC Liberals' campaign. The $100,000 media buy on Global BC was Martin's return to the channel where she was an anchor for 24 years until 2001.

Earlier in the day, NDP leader Adrian Dix scoffed at the show, saying he wouldn't watch because he doesn't have cable and he had socks to wash.

No new policy was revealed during the half-hour, which promoted the BC Liberals talking points about controlling government spending, implementing the B.C. Jobs Plan, paying down the debt and supporting the liquefied natural gas industry, in a bid to erase B.C.'s debt in 15 years. Essentially what was seen in the $16-million B.C. Jobs Plan advertising campaign since last fall.

Clark emphasized the debt control, despite another $6 billion being added in the next fiscal year to the provincial debt while claiming a balanced budget that was not passed before the legislature adjourned for the election.

The infomercial cast the NDP as a tax-and-spend party that ruined the economy during its 1991-2001 rule. Cabinet colleagues Ida Chong, Mary Polak and Mike de Jong predictably praised Clark's leadership. De Jong also bashed the NDP and tried to instill the fear of a return to the 1990s doom and gloom.

"There's one thing worse than going to see a really bad movie; it's seeing it for a second time," proclaimed de Jong, just over a week after his performance on the Times of India Film Awards stage.

Brad Bennett, son of ex-premier Bill Bennett and grandson of ex-premier W.A.C. Bennett, gave Clark a ringing endorsement. "She's a doer, my dad and granddad were doers."

Clark addressed the camera directly and she sat down for a candid coffee conversation at the Diner Cafe in Point Grey with a handpicked group of "real" people who had nice things to say about her leadership.

Stockwell Day, Lululemon CEO Christine Day, and ex-Canuck Dave Babych were also featured.

Clark tried appealing to rural voters, with trips to Canadian Tire and Tim Horton's, where she mused about the Roll Up The Rim To Win promotion and was given a winning coffee cup by an elderly man.

'Tough cookie'

David Fraser, one of the average people picked to appear in the infomercial, stated bluntly while leaning over the side of a fence: "Christy Clark, she's a tough cookie... I think you should ask the premier of Alberta if she's tough."

No, there was no cameo by Premier Alison Redford.

Last October, Clark made a hasty demand to meet Alberta Premier Alison Redford before a BC Liberal fundraiser in Calgary. The summit meeting, ostensibly about pipelines, was measured in minutes and deemed "frosty" by both parties.

"Well, you, I mean, I can't, I wouldn't, uh, say we made a whole lot of progress on it," Clark told reporters at the time.

"I asked Premier Clark if she had any particular ideas with respect to [revenue sharing] and she didn't have a response," Redford said.

What about Gordo?

Martin mentioned how president Bill Clinton balanced a budget while B.C. was under NDP rule in the 1990s. Clark didn't mention her predecessor, Gordon Campbell, by full-name or talk about any megaprojects or even the 2010 Winter Olympics, but she did refer once to the "Campbell decade."

"In 2001, we turned the page," she said. "The Campbell decade was about B.C. getting its house in order and climbing back out of the NDP's have-not status. Two years ago we turned the page again and we're seizing new opportunities while much of the world is ducking for cover."

The assist goes to Dave Babych:

Retired Canuck defenceman Babych provided an awkward transition from clips of de Jong, Polak and Chong to Amrik Virk, the Surrey RCMP inspector who is running for the Liberals in Surrey-Tynehead.

"The playoffs are the tight situations, y'know, the people that can elevate what they do are the ones that are going to be successful. With Christy's team they have a very good team to do that."

Richmond's Teresa Wat, Kamloops's Todd Stone and Parksville Paralympian Michelle Stilwell read scripted lines in support of Clark's leadership.

Night and Day:

Stockwell Day was included to offer some Conservative credibility to balance Clark's dyed-in-the-wool Liberal leanings.

Day talked about his tenure as Alberta's treasurer while the NDP ruled B.C. in the 1990s. He did not mention that he is now a director of Telus, which was given a $1-billion, 10-year government-wide telecommunications contract just three months after Clark became premier.

Competitors Bell, Rogers and Shaw complained to the government about the direct award of the omnibus contract after they navigated the two-year-plus tendering process for nine different parcels of work that were suddenly consolidated and given to Telus in June 2011.

Four-party race:

The polls say Green leader Jane Sterk and Conservative leader John Cummins are unlikely to become the next premier, but that doesn't mean their parties can't be kingmaker or queenmaker on May 14. That doesn't mean they deserve to be ignored. But they were.

"The past two years have made me a better premier and a stronger leader, so now Mr. Dix and I are both applying for the same job: the job of your premier," Clark said. "I hope Mr. Dix is held to the same standards and asked the same questions that I am."

As a potential premier-in-waiting, Dix deserves tough questions about what path he would lead B.C. through 2017, if elected. But Clark has held power for two years and is leading a party that has been in office since 2001. Clark must be subject to a different set of questions than Dix.


Martin proclaimed: "Last year B.C. won an $8-billion shipbuilding contract." That didn't happen last year, but in October 2011 when Seaspan of North Vancouver got the job to build Coast Guard and civilian ships for the federal government.

The infomercial included a clip of Clark addressing party faithful about her abhorrence of debt that left the listener confused about her siblings.

"There was one thing that my parents made sure all four of us knew that they would've been ashamed if they left us worse off than they'd been. My father would've been ashamed if he left me and my brothers and sisters a penny of debt," she said.

"So why is it if it wasn't okay for Jim and Mavis Clark to leave me and my brothers with a debt, why is it okay for our government to leave our kids with a debt?"

Clark is the youngest of four. Her brothers are Bruce and John and her sister is Jennifer.

Four-legged follies:

In folksy fashion, Clark revealed that the white horse she rode at the opening of the Williams Lake Stampede last year went out of control.

"It was the scariest moment I've had since I became premier," she told the coffee table bunch at The Diner. "Seriously, I sit in the legislature and listen to those guys yak, yak, yak at me and I just keep thinking, you're not as scary as that horse."

Clips of the Williams Lake Stampede were part of an "On the Road with Christy" segment during the infomercial. She didn't reveal that the visit to Williams Lake was during a June 29-30, 2012, $6,401.35 taxpayer-funded charter trip on Blackcomb Aviation. Government Communications and Public Engagement "visual communications officer" Kyle Surovy was listed on the passenger manifest for flights from Kamloops to Williams Lake and Williams Lake to Vancouver.

The infomercial ended with Clark cackling after the cow she was feeding apparently took hold of her hand.

Bob Mackin is a frequent contributor to The Tyee. Find his previous articles here.

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