There appears to be a full-court press by the BC Liberals in Chilliwack-Hope ever since officially declaring a byelection candidate Saturday.
A gaggle of BC Liberal cabinet ministers, including Rich Coleman, Naomi Yamamota, Mary Polak and Ida Chong attended the nomination meeting — and they’ve been popping up at recent funding announcements and at other events in the riding, including the opening of a FrontCounter BC office this week in Chilliwack.
“We’re not running scared,” BC Liberal candidate Laurie Throness said Wednesday, despite comments to that effect made by his byelection opponents.
NDP candidate Gwen O’Mahony said she doesn’t think the riding would have seen quite so many cabinet ministers making quite so many funding announcements “if they weren’t running scared.”
“The promises are rolling in and the cabinet ministers are sticking close,” she said. “It sounds like they’re really concerned about this seat, and they’re going to do anything to try and win it.”
“Obviously they’re running scared,” said John Martin the BC Conservative candidate.
The former newspaper columnist took a jaundiced view of the recent funding, some of which was already in the budget, he said.
“Blacktop politics have always been a part of B.C.’s political legacy,” Martin said.
Government funding announcements made before an election “might have worked in the past,” he added, “but I think people see through that now.”
“It’s probably the crassest part (of the legacy) using the public treasury to campaign with,” he said.
But Throness said it is “routine” for cabinet ministers to be touring the province making funding announcements.
“This is all part of a larger picture,” he said, about the funding announced in Chilliwack-Hope. “It’s government getting things done. It’s business as usual.”
Throness also pointed out that funding for improved access to emergency care was announced in 36 communities, not just in Hope for the Fraser Canyon hospital.
The $16,060 in “age-friendly grants” for seniors in the Fraser Valley Regional District is also lower than the $20,000 announced in most of the 52 communities that received them, he said.
And a $6-million highway resurfacing announcement fell short of the $14-million announced in Vernon, he said.
“This is just the on-going business of government,” he said. “I’m proud of what the government is doing.”