Within hours the campaigning began in earnest, with a little mud slinging from all sides.
NDP release Seven Commitments
The NDP, led by Carole James, has focused its campaign on the character of Premier Gordon Campbell and the issue of trust. Their position is that the Liberal government and Campbell have broken several promises and cant be trusted for another term.
"After four years of Gordon Campbells broken promises, fee increases and mismanagement, I have heard clearly that British Columbians want their government to focus on getting a few very important things right," said James. "Our common-sense, practical commitments are centred on improving the lives of average British Columbians through very specific actions to rescue public health care, to help young people get the education they need, to improve our environment and restore integrity to government."
To kick-start their campaign, the NDP released a list of Seven Commitments:
Opening 1,000 long-term care beds in 2005, and 5,000 more over next four years;
Reducing wait lists and cleaning dirty and overcrowded hospitals;
Freezing post-secondary tuition fees, doubling apprenticeships, and reducing K-12 class sizes;
Halting privatization to ensure low Hydro and ICBC rates, and scrapping the $6 training wage;
Balancing the budget and ensuring people in all regions of B.C. share in economic benefits;
Restoring support for the most vulnerable seniors, children, the disabled and poor;
Re-establishing the Ministry of the Environment and enforcing clean air and water standards.
While the NDP is traditionally left of centre in its policies, various columnists have noted that the 2005 party platform suggests that the party has moved more to the centre to widen its appeal. There are no plans to raise taxes that were cut by the Liberals, and the party is advocating for an overall spending increase of just 0.5 per cent, including $200 million for economic diversification in rural B.C.
Its been noted that the centrist platform reflects James reputation as a centrist when she served as president of the B.C. School Trustees Association.
Liberals stick to their guns
For their part the incumbent Liberals and Premier Gordon Campbell appeared to be unimpressed with the NDPs "trust" campaign, and have taken their own shot at James by promising the province "real leadership." James currently has no experience in provincial government office.
The Liberals have also used the opportunity to remind the province of the errors of the previous NDP government, which went from a majority of the legislature to just two seats in the last election.