Premier Christy Clark was in Abbotsford on Wednesday night for the nomination of her government’s finance minister and Abbotsford West MLA Michael de Jong.
In a campaign-style event in a packed and partisan conference room at Garden Park Tower, the pair talked about their government’s record, and about big-ticket projects in Abbotsford, including the Abbotsford Regional Hospital and Cancer Centre, Airport Expansion, and university status for UFV.
In a scrum with reporters afterward, they answered questions about the tough fight the governing Liberals will face in Fraser Valley ridings in the May 2013 election. With Abbotsford-Mission MLA Randy Hawes retiring from politics and Abbotsford South MLA John van Dongen now sitting as an independent, once-fortified Liberal ramparts appear more vulnerable. The situation is similar in many Valley communities.
It was De Jong’s sixth nomination, and he said it was the first time a premier had been to his nomination meeting.
“We are rallying the free enterprise forces, and she is criss-crossing the province…” said de Jong.
The premier noted that de Jong has taken on “The biggest, toughest ministries in government,” including health, forests, attorney general, solicitor general, labour and aboriginal relations.
“Mike has an incredible record of achievement behind him, and he’s going to bring that experience to the Valley and to supporting all the new candidates out here. That’s a really, really important part of winning the election for us.”
In her speech, Clark compared turning out to the election to a hockey tournament. Her son is a minor hockey goaltender. She joked that he is no Cory Schneider, and he is “not even Roberto Luongo.”
When tournament time rolls around, she said some parents take the attitude that it is not worth traveling just to lose, but she needs Liberal party members to get in the game.
“We’re in for the toughest tournament free enterprise has faced since 1996,” she said. “We need you to show up.”
De Jong said he looks forward to defending the work of the Liberals.
“I want to run again, no one had to convince me,” he said. “I’m damn proud of the record of this government.”
The premier has been spending more time here. Last weekend she visited temples and had a luncheon with members of the community.
“It was great to get out and meet people and just talk about what was important to people here,” she explained.