B.C. Liberals unveil first-ever Vancouver Island platform

WATCH: Election platform unveiled by BC Liberals including first-ever Vancouver Island platform to woo Island voters. Tess van Straaten has the details.

A day before the provincial election campaign officially begins, the B.C. Liberals are targeting Vancouver Island voters with their first-ever Island-specific platform.

“It’s not just the first time for the BC Liberal party  — it’s the first time for any party to have a Vancouver Island-specific platform,” retiring Comox Valley MLA Don McRae told reporters in Victoria.

A key component is a new discount loyalty program for BC Ferries, which would be in place by 2020.

Until then, the B.C. Liberals will give Island residents a 25 per cent tax break — up to $250 in savings a year — along with $1 million to improve wifi on ships.

“With this promise we are not just committing to make sure the price of BC Ferries stays stable, we’re finding a way to reduce the cost,” says McRae, who was instrumental in developing the Island-focused platform.

Other highlights include another $25 million for additional safety improvements on the Malahat and money for high-crash areas on the busy Pat Bay Highway, a new active seniors tax credit and a doubling of the tax credit for people who care for seniors and people with disabilities and a review of  government in the Capital Region to make sure decision making is more accountable.

That could include some form of amalgamation, but the Liberals say that would only go ahead but if voters want it.

The BC Liberals are also backing a 2020 Commonwealth Games bid for Victoria to bring more federal investment and tourism money to the region and they’re promising to help make Victoria a cruise ship home port to increase tourism spending.

But the NDP say all the Island election promises are too little, too late.

“I guess I should be grateful the premier has finally discovered Vancouver Island!” Victoria NDP MLA Carole James told CHEK News. “They’ve had 16 years! This is a government that’s been in power for 16 years. They’ve had a chance to show they care and put forward promises and commitments.”

Christy Clark unveils BC Liberal platform

Premier Christy Clark unveiled the Liberals full platform in Vancouver on Monday, touting a billion-dollar tax cut for the middle class in the form of MSP cuts.

“We’re also going to freeze personal income tax for four years,” Clark says. “We’re going to keep the carbon tax neutral and we’re going to freeze it until 2021.”

All three party leaders have been in campaign-mode for weeks and NDP Leader John Horgan is now promising to freeze BC Hydro rates

“We want to make life more affordable for British Columbians,” Horgan said from the campaign trail in Delta. “We want to make sure we’re eliminating MSP premiums and introducing $10-a-day child care.”

The NDP will release its full costed platform on Thursday but the Liberals say there’s no way the NDP can pay for all the promises they’re making without raising taxes.

Here’s a link to the BC Liberal platform

Here’s a link to the BC Liberals Vancouver Island platform