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Former Delta MP John Cummins during a press conference where he formally announced he wants to lead the BC Conservative Party in Vancouver March 29, 2011.

JOHN LEHMANN/The Globe and Mail

B.C. Conservatives plan to begin rolling out their election platform next Monday, with followup announcements each week through to voting day in mid-May, leader John Cummins says.

"It will be a particular piece of the platform, a separate plank," Mr. Cummins, a former Tory MP heading into his first election campaign as party leader, said of Monday's announcement.

While he declined to talk about the subject matter, he suggested in an interview that it will be catchy.

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"I think you're going to be rather surprised by it because I think it is innovative. It is bold and yet it's fiscally responsible, and it's fiscally doable. Given the finances of the province, it's a reasonable thing to do and I think the public will understand that."

Mr. Cummins announced the schedule on Thursday as his party released what he described as a context-setting document – a 2013 pre-election platform that takes 28 pages to sum up the party's policies to date on such issues as balanced budgets, "fair taxes," jobs, skills training and apprenticeships, and agriculture.

The document restates such previous commitments as a legislative budget office to provide MLAs independent analysis of fiscal and economic issues, and the creation of three standing legislative committees to review specific areas of public spending.

Mr. Cummins said the document doesn't include much new material, but sets the stage for announcements of policies drafted by a team that includes campaign officials, candidates and others. "All of these documents are collective efforts."

Still, the Conservatives are ahead of the curve in proposing a schedule for their platform approach. Both the Liberals and New Democrats are saying little about the timing of their platforms.

A Liberal spokesman said the party is not discussing timing now, but noted that, given the Throne Speech, budget, and other declared policies, much of its platform is out before the public. New Democrat MLA Bruce Ralston, co-chair of the party's platform committee, said the NDP platform would be released soon, but no final decision has been made.

B.C. Green Party Leader Jane Sterk said her party's general policies are on its website, but a "fairly substantive" revision will be posted at the end of March or early April with at least a dozen new policies.

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Mr. Cummins said he thought the Conservatives' timing was good. "It's just now that the legislature has risen that the public is starting to get interested in the election. That's certainly the feeling we get when we knock on doors and talk to people," he said. "Up to this point, it's been out there, but not top of mind. I think the public is getting more focused on the election. In that sense, I think our timing is perfect."

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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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