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Debate: Leaders respond to attacks in scrum

The three party leaders were probed by reporters about perceived attacks made during the leaders' debate and some of their key platform policies that were featured in the one-hour television broadcast.

B.C. NDP Leader Carole James was asked about a comment directed to her by B.C. Liberal Leader Gordon Campbell, who said the role of premier is a big job and hard to get a handle on.

“I think it was a shot but as I said I’m used to shots, I’ve known Gordon Campbell, I’ve worked with him now for five years -- I’m used to those kinds of shots,” she said.

Reporters asked Campbell in his scrum if he thought the comment may have come off as sounding patronizing or belittling, especially to women viewers.

“I can’t tell how it sounded,” Campbell replied. “It is a big job and I can tell you I’ve had the opportunity to be in the job. I think that it is an enormous job that requires all of us to try to come to grips with an awful lot of information and I heard some misinformation there,” he said.

Green Party of B.C. Leader Jane Sterk responded to a question about James’s comment near the end of the debate when she said there were only two choices in the election.

“I think it’s the myth that they’re trying to perpetuate that the Green Party doesn’t matter,” Sterk replied.

“If the Green Party wasn’t in this election there would be no discussion of policy. It would all be about the leadership qualities of the leader of the NDP and the leader of the Liberal Party,” she said.

When James was later asked about her comment about two choices, she said that she was referring to the choice of which party could realistically form government.

“I’m really glad that [Ms.Sterk] was able to take part in the debate. I think she brought forth some very important issues but it’s very clear that in this election there are two parties that are running for government,” she said.

The party leaders were also probed on some of their more controversial policies that they brought up during the debate.

Sterk fielded a number of questions about her proposal to end the prohibition of drugs, including what kinds of substances her plan would encompass.

She would start by decriminalizing cannabis, she said, and then move on other substances as well.

“I believe that everything should be controlled in terms of both its production and distribution,” she said.

A reporter asked James about her environment platform and why she voted against cap-and-trade legislation in the legislature when it was such a big part of her climate change policy.

James said there were not enough details in the legislation and that the process was to be too secretive.

“We wanted to see a full open process that everyone gets an opportunity to engage in,” she said.

She was also asked how soon into a government mandate, her proposals for a cap-and-trade system could move forward.

“We’ve put it in as year three because we do believe it will take some time. It’s going to take some time to have discussions with the Western Climate Initiative and with business as well,” she said.

In Campbell’s scrum, he was asked what he would say to B.C. residents living in poverty about what he has done for them while in government.

“When we’re looking at people in poverty what we’re trying to deal with is a whole series of things. We’ve reduced their costs for pharmacare, we’ve reduced their costs for medical services treatment, we’ve actually provided for rental assistance program,” he said.

“All of those things are beneficial and as you have a strong economy that’s actually what you can use to build I think the quality of life for every British Columbian.”

Garrett Zehr reports for The Tyee.

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