Christy Clark is faulting the BC Liberal government for not coming up with a Family Day holiday for the province when the economy was in better shape.
The former deputy premier, seeking the leadership of the BC Liberals, said the second term of Liberal government "after we cleaned up the mess from the NDP" was the time to enact such a holiday as well as hike the minimum wage – something the candidates for the Liberal leadership have all been discussing.
The Liberals were first elected in 2001, ending a decade of NDP government. They were re-elected in 2005 and again in 2009. The next election is scheduled for 2013.
"I kind of sat on the sidelines for the last four-and- a-half years, listened to what was going on, watched what was going on, and thought, 'Wow. BC is doing really well. We could give a little bit back,' and wondered why they didn't do it," Ms. Clark told a news conference Monday.
Ms. Clark, who left politics in 2005 and is on leave from her job as a CKNW radio talk show host, is proposing a Family Day holiday in February because she says families go 111 days from New Year's to Easter without a break.
She suggested the third Monday in February for the holiday because that date is in synch with holidays elsewhere in Canada and Washington State.
Ms. Clark is calling for a debate with the business community on the issue, but said business would have had an easier time with the costs of the measure when the economy was in better shape.
"There was a period of time there that the government could have raised the minimum wage, and could have done some innovative things like Family Day that certainly would have had some consequences for employers out there, but it would have been easier for them to manage at that time, and they didn't do it."
She credited the government with sound measures on economic policy and noted she supported the general direction of Premier Gordon Campbell.
"But I don't think they did everything right, and I think that British Columbians are looking for someone to come from the outside, who isn't going to stand here and say it's all perfect and rosy."
The comment echoes a theme Ms. Clark has been advancing on the campaign trail – the suggestion she is an outsider to the Victoria "cocoon," offering a fresh approach that the provincial Liberals need to win another term.
Ms. Clark said she does not think the repeated observation might offend party members who vote Feb. 26 on a successor for Mr. Campbell, who kicked off the leadership race with his resignation late last year.
"I'm sure there are members of cabinet, and members of caucus who, in a private moment will tell you, there were lots of things like Family Day that they wish they could have gotten done, that they weren't able to get it done."