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Liberals use Whistler to rally for next election, announce spending

New Democrats warn it’s no way to run a province

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"I think British Columbians have had enough of boom and bust financing. That’s what we’re seeing with the government right now; they’ve cut, cut, cut for three years and now they want to hand back a few of our dollars to us when we’re seven months away from the election."

During the convention Finance Minister Gary Collins said among the many indicators he used to gauge how the B.C. economy was fairing, he always watched the statistics that indicated how many people were migrating to B.C. Thousands of Canadians are moving to B.C. so Campbell later used this line of thought and pointed to the growth in energy, mining and forestry industries.

"Today, instead of people looking for work, there’s work looking for people," said Campbell.

While there was a lot of posturing and flag waving, Campbell did not dodge the areas that have become major issues for the party since its defeat in the Surrey-Panorama Ridge by-election. Campbell admitted his party had to do a better job of communicating with ethnic minorities and helping the disabled.

"We have to do a better job of reaching out to all of our citizens, to our ethnic communities because the great diversity in B.C. is one of our truly great strengths as we build a future for everyone in this province."

Campbell also addressed the importance of developing relationships with First Nations. The role First Nations have in the province prior to the Olympic Games has been an ongoing issue in the Sea to Sky corridor. It was most recently in the spotlight, again, when the Squamish Nation opposed a gondola proposal in Squamish.

Squamish Councillor Raj Kahlon is a Sikh and a member of the B.C. Liberals. He agreed that more must be done to connect with minority groups.

"I don’t think the provincial Liberals are paying enough attention to ethnic communities," said Kahlon. "They started OK after the last election (in the Sea to Sky corridor) and then totally abandoned the Sikh community, and that shows that the Liberals are not in touch with the community."

Kahlon said the government only seems to acknowledge the big issues and/or attend the major celebrations.

"Overall, B.C. is not doing as much with all the visual minorities as they should be and it’s the same with First Nations as well… they should be in touch just out of respect."

While ethnic minorities were a priority, Campbell saved arguably his most important announcements for youths. He pledged that by the end of his next term, if re-elected, "there would be no junk food in schools" and that $1.5 billion would be spent over 15 years on "seismically upgrading" all the schools in B.C. He also promised to establish better systems for testing and supporting children with disabilities.

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