Hillary Rodham Clinton said “every moment wasted looking back, keeps us from moving forward” and British Columbia’s new Premier Clark is not wasting time looking in a political rear view mirror. Instead she is moving our province forward into a new era of success and achievement. Since becoming the 35th Premier of B.C., “Christy Craze” is the topic of conversation in coffee shops, hockey rinks, business boardrooms, classrooms, hospitals and kitchen tables around this province; but really who is this new, young, capable and charismatic leader we call Christy?
Christina Joan Clark was born in Burnaby B.C. to father Jim, a teacher and three time candidate for the B.C. Legislature, and mother Mavis a family counsellor.
In a recent interview Christy commented on her father’s passion for politics saying “He got me doing this. My Dad really inspired me as he ran because he believed it was important to represent an alternative to British Columbia and to stand up for those values that he prized so highly as a public school teacher.” and for Clark today, politics is oxygen. She cites her mother’s losing battle with brain cancer as “the most intense experience of my life” as she was by her mother’s side 24-7. The lessons Christy learned from this experience shaped her politics: “people want to do things for the people in their lives that they love, and they’re willing to really work at it. It helped me understand that sometimes it isn’t just the money; it’s the complexity in the system and government can’t make it too hard for people.”
As a single mom to her nine year old son Hamish, Clark said she wants her son to learn by example.
“I want him to know…that life is about taking risks” and “it is worth it because we will never succeed if we shy away from risks.” Despite being driven to success… she said “for me, there’s going to be that balance I’m going to have to find between baseball and soccer and hockey and being the Premier of British Columbia.”
A devout Anglican, Christy Clark believes “religion is important to me…my faith is very personal and it’s very consistent with my desire to want to make a difference in the world.”
Christy attended Simon Fraser University (SFU) where she was elected President of the SFU Student Society and she continued her education at the Sorbonne in France and the University of Edinburgh in Scotland where she focussed on political science and religious studies. Premier Clark was first elected to the B.C. Legislature in 1996 representing the riding of Port Moody-Burnaby Mountain, and over the next five years served as the Official Opposition Critic for the Environment, Children and Families and for the Public Service.
Clark also served as the campaign co-chair for the BC Liberals during the 2001 election in which the party won 77 of the 79 seats in the legislature.
Following the 2001 BC Liberal victory Christy Clark was appointed as Minister of Education and Deputy Premier and in 2004 was appointed Minister of Children and Family Development. Wanting to spend more time with her son Hamish, Christy Clark did not seek re-election in 2005.
During her time out of office, Clark served as a weekly columnist for the Vancouver Province and the Vancouver Sun during the 2005 provincial election and an election analyst for Global BC and CTV News during the 2006 federal election. From August 2007 Clark hosted The Christy Clark Show aired weekdays on CKNW 980 AM radio in Vancouver.
On February 27, 2011 Christy Clark won the leadership of the BC Liberal party with her Families First platform.
In her victory speech, job creation and the elimination of poverty were top on her agenda.
Taking a far less centralized approached to the job as Premier and with a smaller cabinet than Gordon Campbell’s past government, Christy’s new approach is based upon trust.
“I really want cabinet ministers to do their jobs…to work hard…to fulfill their duties…to be the desk where the buck stops.” Christy calls her new style of leadership “the government that people want – where questions don’t already have answers and where the Premier says it is the beginning of the discussion, not the end.
I think the public is ready for that, for a leader to say, Look, there are a bunch of different ways we can do this and here they are…here is the one I favour, I want to hear from you. If we want to do politics differently, we are just going to have to do it differently.”
A natural born leader, Clark is the second woman to serve as Premier of B.C., the fourth woman in Canadian history to serve as a provincial Premier and the eighth woman overall to be a First Minister.
Premier Clark is the political breath of fresh air this province needed so desperately and it has been a long time since British Columbians have been this excited about our potential and future. She is a “class act” worth watching and working with.
President of the Columbia River-Revelstoke BC Liberal riding association