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Clark goes on charm offensive as Liberals step up attacks on NDP

B.C Liberal Leader Christy Clark admires five-year-old Taylor Abramson’s pink cowboy boots at a campaign stop in Ladner, B.C., on Monday, May 13, 2013.

THE CANADIAN PRESS/DARRYL DYCK

Christy Clark spent the last full day of the provincial election campaign stumping for votes in defiance of the polls that suggest her days as Premier are dwindling to a few.

It was a day of cheerful, brief visits – to a seniors centre in Saanich and at least three coffee shops in the Lower Mainland and Victoria area. Overall, Ms. Clark had a total nine stops in five B.C. NDP ridings, three Liberal ridings – including her own – and one riding held, at dissolution, by an independent. Ms. Clark took a brief, blunt shot at the NDP early on, referring to Liberal allegations that B.C. NDP Leader Adrian Dix was being influenced by a list of policy suggestions the NDP's provincial council drafted in 2010 – months before he was elected leader.

However, she left most of the attack work to Finance Minister Mike de Jong.

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That gave Ms. Clark an opening for more cheery events. She even brought along her 11-year-old son, Hamish, because he had expressed an interest in her job. He worked the room with her at the seniors centre and a coffee shop, shaking hands with prospective voters.

Ms. Clark was stubbornly bullish about her prospects after a campaign in which she did 89 stops in 47 communities by the end of Monday, when she wrapped things up with a visit to her campaign office in Vancouver-Point Grey.

"I'm feeling really confident about [Tuesday]," she told reporters in a morning news conference after a rally at the campaign office of Sukhminder Virk, who is trying to wrest Surrey-Newton away from New Democrat Harry Bains.

Mr. Bains won the seat with 69 per cent of the vote in 2009, but Liberals were hopeful of somehow turning that around in 2013. Other ridings Ms. Clark visited on Monday are equally daunting challenges, but Liberals calculated that their leader's charisma and clout could shake votes their way.

Ms. Clark visited a yogurt store in Saanich to bolster the campaign of Rishi Sharma against NDP MLA Lana Popam, who won by two points in 2009. During the appearance, she summed up her political hope on the eve of an election that could end 12 years of Liberal government.

"We are neck-and-neck with the NDP. The votes are out there," she told Mr. Sharma's supporters. "Your task is to make sure all those votes get to the ballot box."

Ms. Clark argued that her message that only the Liberals can manage the economy had connected with voters and given her party momentum in defiance of the polls, in which the NDP has a lead of up to nine points.

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At some places on Monday, Ms. Clark clearly had connected in the way Liberals hoped.

Bob Switzer, a 70-year-old resident of the seniors home, said he had voted Liberal in advance polls.

"I think she's done a good job. Gordon Campbell screwed us royally and left her the mess and she's been cleaning it up," he said after shaking Ms. Clark's hand.

Margo Ramsay, 19, taking a break in a coffee shop in Oak Bay-Gordon Head, also got to shake Ms. Clark's hand. "That's a pretty good handshake," she said after meeting Ms. Clark.

But she said she voted NDP, partly because she knows the candidate.

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About the Author
B.C. reporter

Ian Bailey is a Vancouver-based reporter for The Globe and Mail.  He covers politics and general news. Prior to arriving at The Globe and Mail, he reported from Toronto and St. John’s for The Canadian Press.  He has also covered British Columbia for CP, The National Post and The Province. More

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