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Greens' Furstenau fires at NDP, Liberals on pandemic recovery, sales tax promise

SQUAMISH, B.C. — The leader of British Columbia's Green party took aim at her two larger rivals on Tuesday over the pandemic recovery, a promise on the provincial sales tax and the snap election call.
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SQUAMISH, B.C. — The leader of British Columbia's Green party took aim at her two larger rivals on Tuesday over the pandemic recovery, a promise on the provincial sales tax and the snap election call.

Sonia Furstenau said a Liberal promise to drop the PST for a year would increase inequality at a time when people need help most.

She also criticized the NDP economic recovery plan, arguing it abandons the tourism industry, and accused both parties of not supporting a clean energy economy.

Furstenau made the comments at a campaign stop in Squamish, where she said the Oct. 24 snap election call left the Greens scrambling and likely unable to field a full slate of candidates to run in all 87 B.C. ridings.

"We had exactly zero heads-up notice that this election was coming," Furstenau said at a news conference. 

New Democrat Leader John Horgan called the election last week, about a year ahead of the October 2021 fixed date. Horgan said he struggled with the decision to hold an election during the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic, but the province needs the stability of a majority government.

In 2017, the NDP formed a minority government after reaching an agreement with the Green party, which held the balance of power.

Furstenau, one of two Greens in the legislature, said the party met with Horgan prior to the election call and committed to supporting the minority government until October 2021.

"John Horgan needs to stop trying to blame this election on anybody but himself," she said.

Furstenau said she was disappointed the NDP's $1.5-billion economic recovery plan didn't do more for tourism.

"It was not the immediate support that the sector sorely needs," Furstenau said, adding $100 million in targeted funds and a task force gathering information for next year's tourism season falls short.

Furstenau had similar comments about Andrew Wilkinson's campaign promise to eliminate B.C.'s seven per cent PST in the first year of a B.C. Liberal government.

"To suggest that to take out revenues from government at a time when we need to deeply invest in services and the infrastructure that this province will need as part of its economic recovery, to me not only shows a lack of imagination but that it's an irresponsible decision to make at this time," she said.

Wilkinson said the proposed PST cut is a bold and necessary initiative during unprecedented times.

He said during a campaign stop at Campbell River that the COVID-19 pandemic means the provincial government must make moves to spur consumer and investor confidence.

"So let's be clear, the provincial sales tax cut will not lead to any reduction in services in B.C.," said Wilkinson. "We're in a crisis, folks. It's time for us to put everything we've got into rebuilding B.C."

Horgan, campaigning in Coquitlam, said the Liberal pledge to eliminate the PST appears to be "desperate, not thoughtful."

The NDP recovery plan includes targeted tax cuts that offer businesses relief when they purchase new equipment to create jobs.

"Eliminating the PST won't build one school," said Horgan, who promised to complete construction of a high school and middle school in the Liberal-held riding of Coquitlam-Burke Mountain.

— By Dirk Meissner in Victoria

This report by The Canadian Press was first published Sept. 29, 2020.

The Canadian Press



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