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James targets Campbell's 'broken promises'

SURREY – B.C. New Democratic Party leader Carole James used the backdrop of Surrey Memorial Hospital to illustrate her campaign message that the B.C. Liberals should not be trusted.

“It’s become a symbol of Gordon Campbell’s broken promises,” James told the crowd of Surrey NDP candidates and their supporters outside the hospital on Sunday afternoon.

The Fraser Health Authority told Premier Gordon Campbell in 2004 the hospital was in crisis but he ignored it until the 2005 election, James said.

At that time, Campbell promised the construction of an expansion would begin by 2008, she said, but that deadline passed and now the project won’t be completed until nine years after the initial announcement.

“The people of Surrey know better than anyone what happens to Gordon Campbell’s promises right after the election – they get forgotten and he moves on,” James said.

The NDP leader committed to fast-tracking the completion of the hospital’s expansion using public financing.

Reminding voters of the B.C. Liberal Party’s record on past commitments will continue to be a large part of the NDP campaign over the course of the election, said Jim Rutkowski, political director for James.

“One of the basic core differences between the Campbell Liberals and the James NDP is a question of trust,” he told The Tyee. “This is a powerful symbol of that,” he said, referring to the hospital expansion delays.

The New Democrats also released a new ad yesterday accusing Campbell of breaking a promise over the sale of B.C. Rail.

A lot of media attention in the first week of the campaign was focussed on the NDP’s proposal to get rid of the province’s carbon tax, with several environmental activists and groups publicly criticizing the party over its position.

James welcomed the opportunity to outline the party’s climate plans and defend its broader environmental platform, said Rutkowski.

“The fact that the environment is an issue is something we should celebrate,” he said.

“The New Democrats have a record on the environment that is second to none and we are opposing a premier who has one of the most destructive sets of environmental policies in B.C. history.”

This week’s campaign will continue to focus on the issues concerning which party can be trusted most to govern in the interest of average British Columbians, Rutkowski said.

“We laid them out aggressively last week, and we’re going to continue to do that over the next three weeks,” he said.

The NDP leader’s tour is expected to target seniors' care today, with a morning stop at a private residence in Surrey and an afternoon tour of New Vista seniors’ home in Burnaby.

Garrett Zehr reports for The Tyee.

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