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Liberal candidate’s fracking remarks push Clark into corner

B.C. Liberal leader Christy Clark makes an announcement at Horizon North Manufacturing during a campaign stop in Kamloops, B.C. on Thursday, May 2, 2013. British Columbians will go to the polls May 14th.

JIMMY JEONG/THE CANADIAN PRESS

Spurred by the comments of a Liberal candidate in an TV interview, Christy Clark and Adrian Dix traded jabs over the practice of hydraulic fracking.

Mike Bernier, the Liberal candidate in Peace River South, told Sun News on Wednesday he "absolutely had no problem with doing a review" of fracking" – which the NDP has been calling for. "In fact, prior to the election, I know there were MLA candidates with the Liberal Party [who] themselves were saying, 'should we be doing a review?'" he said. "The problem I have is the flip-flopping of the messaging: Some people saying we're doing a review in the NDP, other NDP candidates saying we're going to stop fracking altogether.

Fracking is a process that uses a high-pressure slurry of water, chemicals and sand to fracture rock formations and extract gas from the ground. Critics fear those chemicals could affect the water table.

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Ms. Clark was pressed on the matter on Thursday and said the Liberals have never called for a review on fracking. "What I have said is we want to always review how well we're doing things to make sure we're doing it as well as we possibly can. The NDP idea is they want to review fracking because they might stop it."

Mr. Bernier told The Globe on Thursday he "wasn't in support of a full-blown review like the NDP," adding that perhaps his comments on Sun TV came across the wrong way. He is in support of reviewing best practices for the industry, he said.

Mr. Dix said Mr. Bernier's original comments seemed to align more with the NDP's position than the Liberals'. "I'm hopeful Mike Bernier and his comments … suggested that other Liberal candidates also disagree with the Premier's position, that we shouldn't even look at the consequences of fracking in case we learn something," he said Thursday. "That's really their position. I believe in learning and I think economies get better when we learn."

Mr. Dix was forced to clarify the NDP's position earlier in the week after Charlie Wyse, the NDP candidate for Cariboo-Chilcotin, said at an all-candidates' meeting an NDP government would place a two-year moratorium on fracking. Mr. Dix said an NDP government would undertake a scientific review, but would not place a moratorium on the practice.

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Daniel Bitonti is a Vancouver-based reporter with The Globe and Mail. Before joining the bureau, Daniel spent six months on the copy desk in the Globe’s Toronto newsroom after completing a journalism degree at Carleton University. More

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Based in Vancouver, Andrea Woo is a general assignment reporter with a focus on multimedia journalism. More

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