Martin blasts Premier for campaign-style visits to Chilliwack-Hope

BC Conservative candidate John Martin blasted Premier Christy Clark and the BC Liberal government Tuesday.

The BC Conservative candidate in Chilliwack-Hope leveled a double-barreled blast Tuesday at Premier Christy Clark and the BC Liberal government.

Candidate John Martin took umbrage with Clark’s thwarted visit to a Chilliwack private school during the teachers’ strike, and with her government’s failure to act as another court case in B.C. was stayed for taking too long to come to  trial.

For good measure, Martin also took a shot at Clark for her failure to call the byelection in Chilliwack-Hope, but in the meantime making another campaign-style visit to the riding with BC Liberal candidate Laurie Thorness in tow.

“If the campaign’s on, let’s announce it and have a level playing field,” Martin said.

He said the BC Liberal candidate is “in a spending mode” buying newspaper and billboard advertising, and accompanying the Premier on multiple visits to the riding, yet Clark has yet to announce a byelection date.

Clark and Thorness did a campaign-style walkaround of downtown Agassiz on Feb. 16, with side trips to the Britco plant and the Tycrop plant in Chilliwack.

Thorness was also with the Premier in Hope on Monday before she cancelled her visit to the Unity Christian School in Chilliwack when she learned striking teachers were waiting to greet her.

Martin said the visit to a non-union school site during a teachers’ strike “was just such a slap in the face of the teachers.”

“You don’t go rub peoples’ faces in it when they’re out on the picket line, and you’ve got parents making daycare arrangements,” he said.

“The Premier should be above that kind of fighting in the gutter,” he added. “There’s other (staff) to do that.”

Martin, a criminologist at UFV, admitted some “empathy” for the teachers, but said he’s been critical of both sides in the past for the way they’ve handled contract negotiations.

Clark told The Progress earlier that the school visit had been planned in advance, and she saw no reason to stop doing her job because the teachers had stopped doing theirs.

But Martin said surely the Premier or her staff could have seen the “bad optics” the visit would present — and postpone the event until after the strike.

“It was just the wrong thing to do,” he said.

Finally, Martin criticized the “Christy Clark Liberal catch-and-release justice system” that he said simply encourages criminals to continue their illegal activities.

Drug charges against two Chinese immigrants were stayed by a provincial court judge in Kelowna on Feb. 14 after it took 33 months for the case to come to trial.

Judge Robin Smith said 23 months of the delay were in “no way attributed to the accused,” but to a lack of court resources.

“This is a sad state of affairs for the judicial system, and not one that will be fully resolved by the recent judicial appointment,” Smith said in his reasons for judgment.

“There would need to be an increase in the number of judges in order for that to happen, as opposed to simply a replacement of retiring judges.”

“Otherwise, the status quo is likely to continue,” he said.

Martin said the case was thrown out “because of the Liberal government’s negligence of the justice system.”

“It needs to be stressed that when we talk about (judicial stays) that it’s not just a one-off, that this has become a regular occurrence, ” he said, with more than 2,500 cases in B.C. inching toward the 18-month range where judicial stays must be considered.

“If you can’t get a court case through the system within 18 months, there’s an ever-increasing likelihood it’s going to be dismissed,” Martin said.

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