George Abbott and his entourage, including former BC Liberal leadership candidates Moira Stillwell and Ed Mayne, arrived in the Windermere Valley in the wee hours of Thursday morning February 24. A small crowd was on hand at the Lake Windermere District Lions’ Hall at 8:30 a.m. to listen to what he had to say.
Introduced by Doug Clovechok, president of the local BC Liberal riding, as a great guy who will make a great premier, Abbott spoke about the two nice surprises he had received the preceding week. He was of course referring to Stillwell and Mayne dropping out of the leadership race and throwing their support behind him. They both had words of praise for Abbott’s character and leadership skills with Stillwell stating, “What you see is what you get, he’s honourable, he’s hardworking and he will work to the highest and best purposes for all British Columbians, so I know he will be a good premier.”
Mayne also extolled Abbott’s virtues, saying that he has had the chance to work with great leaders in the past and he believes Abbott to be the leader capable of taking British Columbians to the next level.
Abbott himself spoke about his experience as a member of the B.C. legislature since 1996 and the many cabinet posts he has held including that of Minister of Health. Some of the topics he was questioned on included the carbon tax, increasing hydro costs, the method of funding projects by the government and Jumbo.
He proposed to tack a second question onto the HST referendum which he said would come in June or September. That question would be to ask the voting public if they would support any additional increments to the carbon tax after July 1, 2012. Abbott claimed to know the answer would and should be no. He said, “It’s not fair to our jurisdiction of 4.5 million people that we are using the carbon tax levy to undermine the economic competitiveness of sectors. We can’t do that, we should not do that, and that’s my view on that. It’s good that we’re leading the world in the fight (on climate change), but our 4.5 million people cannot carry 9 billion people in the world on their backs in terms of economic betterness.”
When asked about the status of Jumbo, Abbott suggested that the approval of the master plan was needed in order to proceed to the next step. When corrected from the audience that the master plan had been approved and that the master development agreement was signed by the developers who were now waiting on the government, Abbott responded, “In my view Jumbo has waited a long time for this, and at this point the government needs to either act on that, which I believe they will, because we can’t leave you hanging for a very long time, so I support it.”
The question period was cut short due to anticipated weather conditions that could preclude the contingent arriving in Castlegar in time for the next stop on the campaign trail.