Premier Christy Clark at campaign rally in Surrey Sunday. (BC LIBERAL PARTY)

BC Liberals stand pat with platform

Clark promises income tax freeze, balanced budgets

Billing their promised cut to medical premiums as “a billion-dollar tax cut,” the BC Liberal Party released a stand-pat election platform Monday that vows to control spending and hold income taxes at current levels.

Premier Christy Clark unveiled the platform in Vancouver, committing the party to continue balanced budgets for four more years and hold the line on personal income taxes. With a sprinkle of new tax credits for seniors and an increase in training for working single parents, the platform mainly promotes measures included in the government’s pre-election budget.

The May 9 election is shaping up as a contest of freezes, with the BC Liberals promising to freeze income tax rates and NDP leader John Horgan pledging a freeze on BC Hydro rates for an unspecified period.

Another battle is Metro Vancouver bridge tolls, which the BC Liberals promise to cap at $500 a year for and the NDP vows to eliminate.

BC Liberal finance minister Mike de Jong said the party’s promises are all costed, with additional measures amounting to $157 million more per year by the third year of the party’s plan.

Dropping tolls from bridges would impair the province’s ability to service the debt from the Port Mann project, and could lead to a credit downgrade for B.C., de Jong said.

Clark said the BC Liberals have the only fully costed platform for the May 9 election. It preserves scheduled increases in BC Hydro rates, which Clark said remain the fifth lowest power rates in North America.