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James takes aim at Campbell in kickoff speech

If last night’s kick-off rally for Carole James is any indication, expect to hear a lot about Gordon Campbell from the B.C. New Democratic Party over the next four weeks.

The NDP leader’s speech to supporters at the Italian Cultural Centre in Vancouver came in just shy of 20 minutes and mentioned the premier by name over 25 times.

“Gordon Campbell is going to tell the people of this province that everything’s just fine -- that they should stay the course,” said James.

“Gordon Campbell should get out a little bit more -- talk to the people of B.C. He should have a look around.”

James then fired off a list of benchmarks, which she said have marked the province as the worst in Canada -- job losses, child poverty, spending for seniors and post-secondary education, and helping ordinary people.

Some common themes throughout her speech's criticism of the premier included spending cuts for services, privatization of public resources and failing to provide for all British Columbians.

Her remarks were peppered with references to the party’s platform slogan, “Take back your B.C.”

“For us this election is about all of you,” James said. “It’s about taking back your B.C. because everyone matters, not just the few as they do under Gordon Campbell.”

Among the crowd of supporters were a number of NDP candidates, including relative newcomers Mable Elmore and Spencer Herbert and party veterans Jenny Kwan and Adrian Dix.

“It’s good to have the campaign started,” Dix told The Hook after James spoke.

“We’ve got a great diverse team,” he said, offering much praise for the woman at the helm.

“She makes good decisions, she’s a great leader and she’s got a team that’s going to support her.”

Echoing James’s speech, Dix said the message of the campaign that will most resonate with voters will be to highlight the B.C. Liberal Party's record over the past eight years.

“The Campbell government has already shown its arrogance and four more years of it will be much worse,” he said.

Garrett Zehr reports for The Hook.

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