B.C. Premier Christy Clark didn’t get the knockout punch she needed in leaders debate

·Politics Reporter

Who was the winner?

That's usually the first question analysts and pundits will ask after any political debate.

On Monday night — at the B.C. leaders' debate — there was no game changer. There was certainly no Brian Mulroney to John Turner 'you had a choice' type moment.

I think most would agree, however, that Liberal Premier Christy Clark stood her ground.

"Clark didn't land a knockout punch but she did set a clear choice on development and economic growth. That's what she had to do tonight. Now she has two weeks to demonstrate that her plan for growth is better than the NDP's," Abacus Data CEO David Coletto told Yahoo! Canada News.

"[NDP leader Adrian] Dix held his ground and played the frontrunner's strategy tonight of steady as she goes while trying to prevent a burst in support for the Greens. He wasn't Mr. Friendly but seemed stable and credible to progressive voters in BC."

It was clear for anyone who watched, that Clark was the only one on stage with a broadcasting background. While she spent a lot of time deflecting questions, she stayed on message hammering the NDP about being spendthrift and consistently reminded voters about the NDP government's record in the 1990s.

In that regard, that led to one of the best lines of the night.

"If you compare that to the out-of-control spending that the NDP is proposing for British Columbia, it's going to mean higher taxes, and it means we will likely never be able to balance a budget," she said.

"The NDP plan would rob Peter to pay Paul, hoping that Paul will vote for the NDP. My plan is to put both Peter and Paul to work so they can realize the great opportunities of this province, and they won't have to wait for government to give them a plan."

But, it wasn't enough.

With just two weeks to go in the election campaign a new poll, released by Justason Market Research on Monday, has the Liberals trailing the NDP by a whopping 22 points. Another poll from last week suggested that there was only a 14 point gap.

[ Related: B.C. Liberals move up in the polls, but still way behind NDP ]

Regardless, whether it's 14 per cent or 22 per cent, it's bad.

Clark needed a knock-out punch on Monday night.

With the debates behind them, the Liberals are running out of time and opportunities for any sort of comeback.

Clark can now only hope to slowly chip away at the NDP in the polls; she can hope to somehow attract the 14 per cent or so of the undecideds; or she can hope that the NDP 'blow it' with a series of 'bozo outbreaks' like the ones we saw with Alberta's Wildrose Party in 2012.

But that's a lot of hoping.

Four highlights of the debate:

1. The cringe worthy moments:

Clark was asked about running a red light at the urging of her son, with a journalist in her car, as reported last week by the Vancouver Sun.

"There is no other answer for the people of British Columbia other than to say it was wrong, I was wrong to do it," she said adding that she treated the empty intersection like it was a four way stop.

[ Related: B.C. Premier Christy Clark slammed for running a red light ]

Dix was asked about backdating a memo in 1998 while working for then-Premier Glen Clark. Here's his response:

"It was my mistake, I take responsibility and have ever since. I was 35 years old and I made a serious mistake."

2. The best exchange:

"If you compare that to the out-of-control spending that the NDP is proposing for British Columbia, it's going to mean higher taxes, and it means we will likely never be able to balance a budget," Clark said.

"The NDP plan would rob Peter to pay Paul, hoping that Paul will vote for the NDP. My plan is to put both Peter and Paul to work so they can realize the great opportunities of this province, and they won't have to wait for government to give them a plan."

To which Dix later replied: "Neither Peter nor Paul are working."

3. The most peculiar response:

Conservative leader John Cummins was asked about having to fire three candidates, in the past two weeks, after his party discovered that they had each written 'bozo' remarks on traditional and social media.

[ Related: Ousted B.C. Conservative candidate says he won’t be ‘bull’-ied ]

Cummins said his party's candidate vetting process is "second to none."

Really?

4. The best Tweet of the night:

(Photo courtesy of the Canadian Press)

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