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Politics 'a lot harder' than radio, but more fulfilling: Clark

Newly elected British Columbia Liberal Leader Christy Clark toured the Capilano Suspension Bridge before making an announcement in North Vancouver, B.C., Feb. 18, 2011.

rafal gerszak The Globe and Mail

It seems that Christy Clark had pulled off the perfect escape.

The former B.C. education minister and deputy premier, who quit politics in 2004 to spend more time with her son, was making six figures a year as a radio talk-show host, channeling discussion on current affairs from a studio in a skyscraper high above downtown Vancouver.

None of the relentless grind of being a minister. No questions from the opposition and reporters. Less travel.

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And one other thing. "In radio when you don't want to talk to somebody anymore, you just hit the button and they're gone," Ms. Clark says.

"Politics is a lot harder. You can't tune out. You have to stay tuned into people."

And then Premier Gordon Campbell quit. Now Ms. Clark has tuned back in big time with a bid to try and succeed him.

"After Gordon resigned, enough people that I really respected came to me and suggested that I think about it that I really did think about it," says Ms. Clark, 45.

She says she is interested in policies to help families. And there is another consideration: "I don't want the NDP to get back into government."

The mix of motivations reflects the populism and ferocious, tactical partisanship Ms. Clark has brought into the leadership race. Although an experienced politician, she has been away for seven years, which makes her the closest thing to an outsider among the candidates.

Radio was good; politics would be more fulfilling. "If I had stayed on in radio, I am sure I would have been successful at it and enjoyed it, but I wasn't satisfied I would be making the same kind of difference in the world."

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She says her nine-year-old son, with whom she shares custody with her ex-husband, understands.

She told him she might lose, but decided to run anyway to show she was willing to lose in order to do something important. "He looked at me, and he said, `You mean, like trying out for rep hockey?'"

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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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