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MLA Dawn Black blasts BC Liberal candidates

Although it may be brief, New Westminster MLA Dawn Black began her term in the legislature as leader of the Opposition by going on the offence, blasting the four main BC Liberal leadership candidates.

The BC New Democrats appointed Black interim leader following the resignation of Carole James, and she will fill in until James' replacement is chosen April 17.

"The Liberals are just not up to today's challenges, and frankly, the level of hypocrisy is staggering," said Black in her first speech during a session that was expected to last less than a week.

Black first took aim at Christy Clark's promise of a family-first agenda, saying Clark slashed budgets for B.C.'s most vulnerable children while sitting on the Treasury Board and helped close hundred of schools while she was in office. Then, Black said, Kevin Falcon promises to listen but as Transportation Minister "gave himself the power to steamroll over municipalities."

Black said another candidate, Mike DeJong, has vowed to restore openness to government, but as Attorney-General he used $6 million of taxpayers' money to pay for the defence in the B.C. Rail corruption trial. Black then mocked George Abbott's slogan, "The people are coming," by saying "They're coming to throw the BC Liberals out of government once and for all."

Black, who is a grandmother to seven children, was joined at the session by 14 of her family members covering three generations. She served three terms as a Member of Parliament before running provincially in 2009.

"This is not a job that I either expected or sought. But it is one that I'm determined to fulfil to the best of my ability on behalf of all British Columbians," Black told the legislature.

She cited "disappointing" recent statistics that show the unemployment rate in B.C. is higher than anywhere else in Canada west of the Maritimes. A recent economic report also showed British Columbians are the most economically stressed in Canada.

"This will come as no surprise to that young family that's struggling to pay the half-million dollar mortgagge on a modest home in B.C.," said Black. "In my community in New Westminster, I meet families every day who struggle with the basics, and I worry about the future their children will inherit."

Black said she will introduce a bill to change the Recall and Initiative Act to allow British Columbians a chance to vote on the HST as early as June.

ggranger@newwestnewsleader.com

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