Through her address and from questions from the audience, there were a variety of subjects touched on by the premier during her visit in Smithers. Here’s a breakdown of what was talked about:
Clark repeated her earlier stated position on the HST saying that she was not happy with how it was introduced, like most people were, but said that she wants people, when they vote in the referendum, to vote based on a rational case for the HST and not vote based on any emotional response to its implementation.
She said that mills, mine and other heavy industry will benefit the most from the HST and that those companies will then reinvest with more jobs.
Increasing jobs will keep families strong, she said. Family has been an important agenda for Clark.
Property Transfer Taxes
An area realtor questioned Clark on the duplicity of taxes on the sale of homes. Namely between the HST and also the Property Transfer Tax (PTT). The realtor wondered if the PTT would be relaxed in the future.
Clark supported the notion and said that addressing the PTT is a high priority for her, however she does want to see the HST issue get out of the way before dealing with it, as the HST vote will affect future decisions on other taxes.
That said, she said the PTT has an absolutely zero benefit to the province and is a money grab.
“The [PTT] is one of the dumbest taxes the government has,” said Clark.
Highway of Tears
The Highway of Tears issue came up and the premier was asked what measures will be put in place to ensure the safety of women on Highway 16.
Clark referred to the Missing Women Commission that has been formed that, while has not officially begun, will be looking at where gaps are in the system.
A group of First Nation women have been gathered in Vancouver to ask questions about how to keep women safe, she said.
While the province is at the beginning of a long process, Clark said that she hopes to see the process eventually end with a national strategy.
She was careful not to provide any definite answers, saying the reason she has none is that all the eventual answers will have to come from First Nation women themselves, and not from government bureaucrats.
Clark was asked to comment on the recently revealed pension for BC Ferries CEO and president David Hahn. It was reported in news media recently that his pension has been negotiated to be over $300,000.
Clark quite quickly told the audience that the pension was, in fact, excessive.
She said as a Crown corporation issues such as affordability need to be considered and that there needs to be an obligation to take care in setting salaries, which wasn’t present in this situation.
She said it needs to be assured that it doesn’t happen again.
The Interior News was later told that there have been steps taken by the government to make sure instances like this won’t happen again, but no details were available.