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B.C. NDP leader John Horgan takes campaign to Liberal heartland in Okanagan

FILE PHOTO: B.C. NDP leader John Horgan at a rally in Kamloops in Kamloops, March 27, 2017.
May 07, 2017 - 8:30 AM

VERNON, B.C. - British Columbia's New Democrats took their campaign to the Liberal heartland in the province's Okanagan on Saturday, targeting three ridings held by Liberal backbenchers.

NDP Leader John Horgan bought a carton of apple juice from a local judo club that was raising funds outside a coffee shop in Vernon and inspected a bear proof steel cage built to protect a bee hive operation at an apple orchard in Summerland.

He was greeted with chants of "NDP, NDP, NDP" at a packed Penticton restaurant where people also stood in the doorway and on an outside patio to hear him speak.

"This is the most important election in our lifetime," said Horgan. "We can't risk another four years of Christy Clark. Take a look at what we're offering."

In Vernon, Horgan told a roomful of supporters he wants to meet as many voters as possible in the campaign's final days before the election on Tuesday.

Liberal Leader Christy Clark started Saturday in Cache Creek in B.C.'s Interior to examine flood damage before resuming her campaign in Port Moody later in the day.

In Cache Creek, she also addressed the ongoing trade dispute with the United States over duties on softwood lumber and her request for the federal government to ban the shipment of thermal coal through the province, which would be a blow to the industry in the U.S.

If Ottawa doesn't act, Clark has also threatened to act on her own with a tax on thermal coal after the U.S. imposed duties of up to 24 per cent on Canadian lumber imports.

U.S. Trade Secretary Wilbur Ross issued a statement on Saturday saying "threats of retaliatory action are inappropriate and will not influence any final determinations."

Clark stood up for the proposed levy on Saturday, saying she's just trying to protect B.C. jobs from the protectionist policies of U.S. President Donald Trump.

"They say, 'We don't want your lumber' and they're upset we don't want to ship their coal? Come on," she said. "If Donald Trump, fair enough, he wants to fight for jobs in the United States. We're not going to let him take jobs from B.C."

Later in Port Moody, Clark and her son Hamish served ice cream and chatted with people at a campaign event.

In the campaign's final days, Horgan has been making a pitch to undecided and prospective Green voters to support the NDP in an effort to defeat the Liberals.

Grand Chief Stewart Phillip, president of the Union of British Columbia Indian Chiefs, said he is supporting Horgan.

"I believe this election is about change," he said outside the restaurant in Penticton. "Sixteen years of B.C. Liberals' legislation and policies is long enough."

Green Leader Andrew Weaver also focused part of his campaign on Saturday on the flooding and mudslides in the Interior.

"As rain storms continue to wreak havoc on areas of the interior with flooding and mudslides, my thoughts continue to be with all those affected," he said in a statement. "I am deeply concerned for the safety of British Columbians in these areas."

— With files from Gemma Karstens-Smith in Cache Creek and Port Moody

News from © The Canadian Press, 2017
The Canadian Press

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