Clark campaign makes a stop in Langley

First campaign visit by any provincial Liberal contender

Liberal Party leadership candidate Christy Clark was joined by supporter

Liberal leadership hopeful Christy Clark says she learned that most B.C. residents feel disconnected from their provincial government during the four-and-a-half years she spent “listening to people for a living” as an open-line host on CKNW.

Clark told a noon-hour audience of about 50 people at McBurney’s Coffee and Tea House in Langley City her time taking calls has convinced her government needs to listen more, something she is well-qualified to do.

Most of her hour-long appearance at the coffee shop was spent taking friendly questions from the audience, which included a number of prominent local Liberal supporters.

In response to one questioner, Clark said she wouldn’t wait until the government’s current term runs out in 2013 to call an election.

The rival New Democrats are also picking a new leader, Clark noted, which would mean a government would be in power for more than two years with a premier and leader of the opposition who haven’t been tested at the polls.

“I think that’s too long,” Clark said, but she wouldn’t say exactly how soon she might call an election.

She also wouldn’t say whether she would run for office even if she loses the leadership campaign, beyond observing that, unlike the other contenders, she doesn’t have a MLA salary to fall back on.

“I’ve got a mortgage to pay and a little guy [my son] to support,” she said.

Clark was accompanied by another high-profile former broadcaster who has just entered the political arena, retired Vancouver CTV news anchor Pamela Martin.

Martin is Clark’s membership co-ordinator, tasked with convincing prospective supporters to join the party and vote at the leadership convention.

Martin made a pitch for Clark as the person most likely to defeat the NDP based on opinion polls that place her ahead in various what-if scenarios.

“Christy, of all people, is one who has shown she can win,” Martin said. Because she left politics for broadcasting, Clark said she is the only one of the Liberal candidates in the running who doesn’t have to answer for the debacle of the HST because she was not an MLA when the controversial tax was approved.

It was the first time any of the candidates for leader from either provincial political party has made an official campaign stop in Langley.

Clark poured on the charm for the coffeehouse crowd, telling them that the majority of the callers to her show hailed from Langley and Surrey.

She laughed and — briefly — sat in the lap of Sam Omelaniec to give the well-known local businessman a hug after he said he had been thinking of backing George Abbot but would be switching to Clark.

Clark was an MLA in Victoria from 1996 to 2005, serving as education minister, deputy premier and minister of children and families.