With the big debate now in the rearview mirror, the major party leaders are weighing in on how they think the televised performance went.
The economy, jobs, education all got plenty of airtime, but issues of personality were never far away either, with NDP Leader John Horgan again dismissing questions he has an anger management issue.
“No of course not,” Horgan told reporters after the debate. “Look I’m an Irish descendant, I’m passionate, I got involved in public life because I want to make life better for people.”
“When I see a government that ignores children in care to the point where they take their own lives; I get angry and I think British Columbians get angry as well,” he said, apparently anticipating the question.
But Liberal leader Christy Clark doubled down on her debate message that she’s a calm leader while speaking to reporters, taking a shot at her chief opponent, even if she didn’t mention Horgan by name.
“The thing for me is that leadership needs to be patient, it needs to be calm, it needs to be determined,” Clark said. “That’s how you make sure you get the job done.”
Horgan also said he wasn’t caught off guard by the Green Leader’s aggressive performance after Andrew Weaver came out swinging at the NDP.
“No I accomplished what I wanted to do tonight and that was to talk to British Columbians about my plan and my vision and how I want to approach politics and government and making life better for British Columbians,” he said.
“Mr. Weaver was beside me and I was good with that.”
Weaver told reporters afterwards he was “just debating the issues.”
“It was a great debate, you know Mr. Horgan did a great debate, Ms. Clark did a great debate, and I was having fun, and a great debate and I think it was.”
Weaver declined to say who he would support in a possible minority government, but also compared himself to Alberta’s NDP premier Rachel Notley and Prime Minister Justin Trudeau for taking government from third party status.
In one of several back-and-forths with John Horgan, Weaver found himself asking if Horgan said Christy Clark’s BC Liberals would win the election.
“The most corporate-funded party in British Columbia history is gonna win the next election, Andrew, because they’ve taken big piles of money, the only way we stop that-” “Did you just say the Liberals are gonna win the election?”
Weaver was still wondering that when he spoke to reporters afterwards.
“What I thought I heard, was he said, ‘and the B.C. Liberals are gonna win this election.’ I thought I heard him say that, go back and check the sound on that. And then I looked to [leader] Christy Clark and I said, ‘did he just say that?’ That’s what I thought I heard.”
But Horgan told reporters that he didn’t quite mean what he said.
“That would be put down to a mis-speak, I think. I don’t want the most corporate funded party in B.C. to win the next election, would have been how I would have said that.”
The threats from south of the border to impose tariffs on B.C. lumber loomed large over the leaders debate as well.
Liberal leader Clark slammed the NDP’s John Horgan for not taking an interest in the long-simmering softwood lumber dispute until now.
“He never even raised it in question period once in the three years that he’s been leader.”
“He’s asked questions on a whole range of issues in other ministries, but this one never made it into the top of his priority list.”
In the the debate, Horgan responded to that same charge, saying if Clark, “Came to question period more often,” he would have had the opportunity to raise it.
Reaction is also coming in from citizens’ groups.
An author of the BC Labour Market Report says Wednesday’s debate tells him a new provincial government needs to train mill workers.
Christian St. Cyr says losing forestry jobs was in the cards regardless of whether the U.S. put a tax on Canadian softwood lumber or not.
“Because we created new mills, or we just would’ve lost them because those mills aren’t profitable anymore. This is the classic example of where we should be training people to work in the super mills of tomorrow… and a lot of the people who were working in the mills in the 1980s and 90’s just don’t have the skills to transition to be able that.”
St. Cyr adds there should be support for mill workers to transition to other industries.
Meanwhile BC Health Coalition Organizer Jennifer Kuhl says the group has five main concerns, and feels like most of them weren’t addressed in debate, including better access to mental health services.
“Because something we hear a lot from people is that when they do need care, they can’t find a doctor or a nurse practitioner to see them, and then they end up waiting and they end up having to go to emergency.”
She was also expecting to hear more about senior care.
“That’s one of the things that we hear being front of mind for people is how will they care for their aging parents or how will they themselves get care.”
She says the coalition is releasing a voter’s guide on how each party’s platform ranks on the changes they’d like to see in health care.
The BCHC wants to see changes in wait times, senior care, Medical Service Plan premiums, a poverty-reduction plan and increasing access to primary care.
With files from Kyle Benning