King of the hill

Greater Victoria candidates weigh in on party leaders, policies

Technically speaking, the provincial government of British Columbia is a collective of representatives. Each member of the legislative assembly (MLA) represents their particular riding and is elected as a voice for that riding in legislature.

In other words, you don’t really vote for a particular party or leader, unless they happen to be running in your riding. But not everybody sees it that way.

Knowing many people have their eyes and hearts focused on the top, the News decided to ask Greater Victoria candidates from the four major parties to speak their mind about their party and their leader, to see where differences lie and what ties bind strongly.

Green Party of B.C.

Leader: Jane Sterk (Victoria-Beacon Hill)

Candidate: Susan Low (Esquimalt-Royal Roads)

Susan Low believes her party leader, Jane Sterk, has done an excellent job of getting people involved in the party and excited about provincial politics.

“She’s mentored young candidates, she is focusing on the future and developing people (who are) not your typical politicians,” Low said. “The welcome I’ve received from Jane, as a new candidate, has made it possible to do this.”

Low said Sterk’s biggest flaw is that she is not a showy, flashy politician and therefore doesn’t get the exposure other party leaders do.

“By typical standards of politics, Jane doesn’t attract the cult of personality,” Low said. “I think that’s actually a strength, personally. … She’s been a behind-the-scenes type of leader, getting things done.”

Looking at the overall party, Low said she is most attracted to the Green’s policy of encouraging individual thinking among its candidates. Party leadership emphasizes each candidate represent their constituency as a priority, over towing the party line.

“Not to be a sheep, basically,” said Low.

While her priorities, at times, may differ from the overall party, Low said she believes in her party’s general principles and policies.

“I haven’t actually found anything yet where I look at it and I say ‘I completely disagree,’” Low said. “I think it’s pretty solid.”

B.C. Liberals

Leader: Christy Clark (Vancouver-Point Grey)

Candidate: Stephen P. Roberts (Saanich North and the Islands)

Stephen P. Roberts finds his Liberal leader to be an upbeat, positive person who is looking to the future. Roberts said he is so supportive of Clark, he sees no weaknesses.

“She has a game plan, so that’s really important,” Roberts said. “She’s pretty strong, she’s pretty high energy, she’s got the vision, she’s not afraid to put herself out there and explain it. So I don’t think there’s a lot of weakness in that.” In terms of his party’s policies, Roberts believes they do best in the area of economics, citing the management of the financial crisis as a feather in the party’s cap.

“We’ve slayed the deficit and continue to get job growth and economic growth going in the province,” Roberts said.

He also believes his party has a great environmental track record, with such initiatives as the carbon tax and greenhouse gas emission reductions leading the way for the province.

“People just seem to not remember,” Roberts said.

Where Roberts strays from the party slightly is when it comes to B.C. Ferries. An important issue to his voters, Roberts would like to see ferries considered part of the province’s transportation infrastructure and invested in by the province.

“To keep our Island and coastal communities prosperous, because there are not just people living on these islands, but there are businesses that are trying to make a go of it as well.”

B.C. Conservatives

Leader: John Cummins (Langley)

Candidate: Greg Kazakoff (Oak Bay-Gordon Head)

Greg Kazakoff admires his party leader’s sincerity, his passion for the province and his straightforward approach to leadership.

“You never have to guess where he’s coming from, there’s never any hidden agenda with John,” Kazakoff said.

If Cummins has a weakness, it might be speaking his mind a little too directly for voters, said Kazakoff.

“He can be a little abrasive at times because he just says what’s on his mind.”

In terms of policy, Kazakoff admires his party’s promotion of a strong, growing economy based on natural resources and promoting business, in an environmentally responsible fashion.

“We say the best way to have better government performance is to encourage industry and business to come to B.C. and make it a good place to do business,” Kazakoff said. “The development of the economy would do a lot to help B.C.”

Kazakoff said he somewhat strays from his party’s platform in First Nations issues. He would like to see more recognition and inclusion of First Nations when it comes to economic decisions and provincial projects.

“B.C. has a vested interest … in ensuring that First Nations people are consulted and participate in an equitable fashion in developments that accrue within their traditional land,” Kazakoff said. “I’d like to see our policy expanded to make that recognition.”

B.C. NDP

Leader: Adrian Dix (Vancouver-Kingsway)

Candidate: John Horgan (Juan de Fuca)

John Horgan ran for the leadership of the NDP in 2011. Even though he lost out to Dix, he has considered him a friend going on 25 years, and believes Dix is a hard worker.  “(I have) tremendous confidence in his abilities,” he said.

“Nobody works harder than he does. He is sharp as a whip and, I believe, will be an outstanding premier.”

If Dix has any faults, Horgan said they can be found in Dix’s natural shyness. Even though he overcompensates at times, Horgan said, Dix has worked hard over the years to become more comfortable in the public spotlight.

“You can’t be a political figure, much less a leader, if you’re uncomfortable in crowds,” Horgan said. “I think he’s overcome that quite well.”

The NDP’s focus on social issues is the party’s strength, said Horgan, but he would like to see more of a focus on economics, with an eye to growing the industrial base, along with new and emerging sectors.

“Should we be successful, … we have to demonstrate to the public that we can manage the economy,” Horgan said.

Beyond that, however, Horgan said he is in the party for a reason and supports its policies.

“There’s been no instance where I felt that I was compromising my principles or my values to support the party position,” Horgan said. “People join political parties because the grouping best reflects their values, not all of their values but the majority. … I’ve always been comfortable with the NDP.”