|35th Premier of British Columbia|
Assumed office |
March 14, 2011
|Preceded by||Gordon Campbell|
|Member of the|
Legislative Assembly of British Columbia
Assumed office |
July 10, 2013
|Preceded by||Ben Stewart|
May 30, 2011 – May 13, 2013
|Preceded by||Gordon Campbell|
|Succeeded by||David Eby|
May 16, 2001 – May 17, 2005
|Preceded by||new member|
|Succeeded by||Iain Black|
May 28, 1996 – May 16, 2001
|Preceded by||Barbara Copping|
|Succeeded by||riding dissolved|
|Constituency||Port Moody-Burnaby Mountain|
|Deputy Premier of British Columbia|
June 5, 2001 – September 20, 2004
|Preceded by||Joy MacPhail|
|Succeeded by||Shirley Bond|
|Minister of Education|
June 5, 2001 – January 26, 2004
|Preceded by||Joy MacPhail|
|Succeeded by||Tom Christensen|
|Minister of Children and Family Development|
January 26, 2004 – September 20, 2004
|Preceded by||Gordon Hogg|
|Succeeded by||Stan Hagen|
Christina Joan Clark|
October 29, 1965
Burnaby, British Columbia, Canada
|Political party||B.C. Liberal|
|Spouse(s)||Mark Marissen (div. 2009)|
|Residence||Kelowna, British Columbia, Canada|
Christina Joan "Christy" Clark, MLA (born October 29, 1965) is a Canadian politician who currently serves as the 35th premier of British Columbia, Canada. Clark was sworn in as premier on March 14, 2011, after she won the leadership of the British Columbia Liberal Party in the 2011 leadership election on February 26, 2011. She is the second woman to serve as premier of British Columbia, after Rita Johnston in 1991, however Clark is so far the only female premier of BC to carry an election in her own right.
Clark served as a Member of the Legislature from 1996 to 2005, serving as deputy premier from 2001 to 2005 during the first term of Gordon Campbell's government. She left politics in 2005, and became the host of an afternoon radio talk show. At the time of her leadership victory, Clark was not a member of the Legislative Assembly of British Columbia. She re-entered the legislature after winning a by-election on May 11, 2011, in Vancouver-Point Grey, the seat left vacant by Campbell.
Her government was re-elected in the 2013 provincial election, but Clark was defeated by David Eby in her own riding of Vancouver-Point Grey. She was subsequently reelected to the legislature in a by-election in Westside-Kelowna on July 10, 2013.
Early life and family
Clark was born on October 29, 1964 in Burnaby, British Columbia, the daughter of Mavis Audrey (née Bain) and Jim Clark. Her father was a teacher and a three-time candidate for the legislative assembly, and her mother, who was born in Glasgow, Scotland, was a marriage and family therapist in Vancouver. On June 8, 2016, she shared that, as a 13-year-old girl on her way to work at her first job, she was forcibly grabbed and pulled into some bushes; she also shared that she had been subject to other sexual offences throughout her life and that she had not felt able to share this until a campus sexual assault bill proposed by the Green Party came up.
Clark graduated from Burnaby South Senior Secondary before attending Simon Fraser University (SFU), the Sorbonne in France and the University of Edinburgh in Scotland to major in political science and religious studies. She did not graduate from any post-secondary institution.
In 2001, Clark gave birth to her only child, Hamish Marissen-Clark, with then husband Mark Marissen. Clark was the second woman in Canadian history to give birth to a child while serving as a cabinet minister, after Pauline Marois, then a Quebec provincial minister, in 1985.
Clark was first elected to the legislature in the 1996 election, representing the riding of Port Moody-Burnaby Mountain. During the next five years, she served as the Official Opposition critic for the environment, children and families and for the public service. She also served as the campaign co-chair for the BC Liberals during the 2001 election, in which the party won 77 of 79 seats in the legislature.
Following the BC Liberal Party's election victory in 2001, Premier Gordon Campbell appointed Clark Minister of Education and Deputy Premier. She brought in a number of changes that were claimed to increase accountability, strengthen parental power in the decision-making process, and provide parents greater choice and flexibility in the school system. These changes were unpopular amongst teachers, school board members, opposition politicians, and union officials who argued that the decision not to fund the pay increases agreed to by the government resulted in funding gaps. The changes made were challenged by the BC Teacher's Federation, and were later found to be unconstitutional.
As Education Minister, Clark sought to increase the independence of the BC College of Teachers against heavy opposition from the British Columbia Teachers' Federation. In 2002 the BC Liberals and Education Minister Christie Clark introduced Bills 27 & 28 forcing teachers back to work and banning collective bargaining. In 2011 the BC Supreme Court found Minister Clark’s decision to do so unconstitutional. Clark was deputy premier at the time of the privatization of BC Rail and resulting scandal. Clark was also the co-chair of the 2001 Liberal campaign, which included a platform that specifically promised not to sell BC Rail. In 2009, Michael Bolton, defence attorney in the Basi-Virk trial, alleged that Clark had participated in the scandal by providing government information to lobbyist Erik Bornmann. These allegations were never proven or tested in court. Her brother Bruce Clark was the subject of one of the warrants. Though confidential draft "Request for Proposal" documents relating to the bid process allegedly provided by Dave Basi were found in Bruce Clark's home no charges were laid against him. Dave Basi and Bob Virk, Liberal Party insiders were charged for accepting benefits from one of the bidders, however. Clark has rebuffed talk of her links to the scandal as "smear tactics". At the time of the raids and associated warrants, her then-husband Mark Marissen was visited at home by the RCMP. Her husband was also not under investigation, and was told that he might have been the "innocent recipient" of documents then in his possession.
In 2004, Clark was appointed Minister of Children and Family Development after Minister Gordon Hogg was forced to resign. On September 17, 2004, Clark quit provincial politics and did not seek re-election in the 2005 provincial election. She declared she wanted to spend more time with her three-year-old son.
Campaign for mayor of Vancouver
On August 31, 2005, Clark announced that she would seek the nomination of the Non-Partisan Association (NPA) to run for mayor in the Vancouver Civic Elections against local councillor Sam Sullivan. On September 24, 2005, she lost the NPA's mayoral nomination to Sullivan by 69 votes out of 2,100 cast. Sullivan was subsequently elected Mayor of Vancouver and in 2013 was elected a Liberal MLA while Clark was premier.
Radio show and columnist
Clark hosted the The Christy Clark Show, airing weekdays on CKNW 980 AM in Vancouver from August 27, 2007, through to her decision to enter the BC Liberal leadership election in December 2010. Clark also served as a weekly columnist for the Vancouver Province and the Vancouver Sun newspapers during the 2005 provincial election and an election analyst for Global BC and CTV News Channel during the 2006 federal election.
On December 8, 2010, Clark officially announced her intent to seek the leadership of the BC Liberal Party. While Clark had long been touted as a potential successor to BC Premier Gordon Campbell, she often claimed she had no further interest in a political career. Public polling conducted prior to and after the announcement of her candidacy showed that Clark was the frontrunner to succeed Campbell as leader of the BC Liberals and premier. Clark launched her leadership bid saying she wanted a “family-first agenda”. During the campaign she tried to cast herself as an outsider from the current caucus, and as the only candidate who could provide the change voters were looking for. Clark's policy proposals included observing a provincial Family Day in February, establishing an Office of the Municipal Auditor General to monitor local government taxation, and to provide a more open government by holding 12 town hall meetings a year to hear from residents. Regarding the controversial Harmonized Sales Tax (HST), she campaigned early on to cancel the referendum scheduled for September 2011. She suggested a free vote in the legislature by MLAs, believing the HST referendum has little chance of success. "Let our MLAs do their jobs and let our MLAs vote down the HST. Do it by March 31 and get it over with and get on with life in B.C.", Clark told a crowd of about 40 in Pitt Meadows. However, she eventually decided to continue with the planned referendum.
Despite her perceived frontrunner status, backbench MLA Harry Bloy was the only sitting member of BC Liberal caucus to endorse her candidacy for leader. The majority of the caucus supported the campaigns of Kevin Falcon and George Abbott, who were each endorsed by 19 MLAs. While many saw Clark as the best hope for the party there were fears that Clark's past background with the federal Liberal Party could fracture the party. The BC Liberals are not affiliated with any party at the federal level and is considered a "free-enterprise coalition" made up of both federal Conservatives and Liberals, and there were fears that right-wing supporters would move to the British Columbia Conservative Party which had started to make a comeback in the province after decades of dormancy.
Her campaign faced questions regarding her involvement in the sale of BC Rail due to her cabinet position and family connection to people "mentioned prominently in court documents, including search warrants", with opposition members stating that she "wants to shut down the public's questions about the scandal". It was in the wake of the controversial Basi-Virk guilty pleas that ended the trial proceedings that she declared her candidacy for the party leadership on her radio show. Clark had called for more questions to be answered about BC Rail, but since then has said that there is no need for a public inquiry, as have the other Liberal Party leadership contenders.
At the leadership convention held on February 26, 2011, Clark was elected leader of the BC Liberals on the third ballot, over former Health Minister Kevin Falcon. She won 52 per cent of the vote, compared to 48 per cent for Falcon.
Clark was sworn in as premier of British Columbia on March 14, 2011, and unveiled a new smaller cabinet on the same day. At the time of her swearing in, she did not hold a seat in the legislature. Clark ran in former Premier Gordon Campbell's riding of Vancouver-Point Grey and defeated NDP candidate David Eby by 595 votes. Her win marked the first time that a governing party won a by-election in 30 years.
After Clark became premier, the Liberal Party saw a bounce in support and lead in opinion polls, after falling behind the Official Opposition NDP under Campbell. However, the increase in support was short lived and within months the party had fallen behind the NDP once again. Several polls eventually showed a statistical tie between the Liberals and the Conservative Party with support for each party in the low twenties, while support for the NDP was in the high 40s. Internal problems within the Conservative Party towards the end of 2012 saw the party bleed support to the Liberals.
In the summer of 2012, several high-profile caucus members, including the Ministers of Education and Finance, announced they wouldn't seek re-election. Though Premier Clark suggested she "expected" the resignations, the news shook her government. There was public outrage and disruption within her party, including calls for her resignation, as a result of the Quick Wins ethnic outreach scandal.
During her premiership, she was accused of conflict of interest by MLA and former BC Liberal cabinet minister John van Dongen in relation to the sale of BC Rail during her service as a cabinet minister in the Campbell government. In April 2013, B.C.’s Conflict of Interest Commissioner released a decision that Clark had been in neither a real nor apparent conflict of interest.
Clark defied pollster predictions by leading her party to victory, its fourth consecutive mandate but her first, in the May 13, 2013 provincial election reversing a 20-point lead held by the BC NDP at the beginning of the campaign. However, she suffered personal defeat in Vancouver-Point Grey losing her seat to the NDP candidate, David Eby by a margin of 785 votes. According to parliamentary precedent she was entitled to remain premier, but had to win a by-election in order to sit in the legislative assembly. She did not rule out running in a riding outside the Lower Mainland in order to get back into the chamber, telling The Globe and Mail that she believed one reason she lost her own riding was that she was devoting so much time to serving the entire province.
On June 4, Clark announced she would run in a by-election for the safe Liberal seat of Westside-Kelowna to re-enter the Legislative Assembly. The incumbent MLA, government whip Ben Stewart, resigned in Clark's favour. Clark won the by-election on July 10, 2013, taking more than 60 per cent of the vote over NDP candidate Carole Gordon.
In May 2014, Clark gave a formal apology for 160 historical racist and discriminatory policies imposed against Chinese-Canadians:
While the governments which passed these laws and policies acted in a manner that [was] lawful at the time, today this racist discrimination is seen by British Columbians — represented by all members of the legislative assembly — as unacceptable and intolerable. The entire legislative assembly acknowledges the perseverance of Chinese Canadians that was demonstrated with grace and dignity throughout our history while being oppressed by unfair and discriminatory historical laws.
In October 2014, the British Columbia government exonerated First Nations leaders who had been sentenced to be hanged in the Chilcotin War by Judge Begbie in 1864. Clark stated, "We confirm without reservation that these six Tsilhqot'in chiefs are fully exonerated for any crime or wrongdoing."
Behind The Smile biography
In 2016, just prior to an election year, former Liberal MLA Judi Tyabji published an "unauthorized" biography Behind The Smile of Clark. Judi Tyabji, however, has received a $128,000 provincial government grant for a shearing project on the sheep farm she and her husband, former Liberal leader Gordon Wilson, own on the Sunshine Coast; $67,000 went directly to Tyabji’s supervision of the project. Clark has also had to fend off criticism involving Wilson, who is being paid $150,000 a year to run LNG-Buy B.C., a site aiming to connect B.C. businesses with LNG opportunities.
Missing and murdered indigenous women
Beginning in 2014, Clark has expressed her support for a national inquiry into missing and murdered indigenous women and girls. On December 8, 2015 Clark tweeted her support of the federal government's decision to call such a national inquiry.
In December 2015, Clark expressed her disappointment over Prime Minister Justin Trudeau's plans for a non-partisan Senate, saying "appointing senators on merit will give legitimacy to an unelected, unaccountable upper house." She also expressed disappointment over the lack of representation from British Columbia, as of the 105-seat chamber, British Columbia only has six seats.
A leaked 17-page document dated Jan. 10, 2012 and called Multicultural Strategy Outreach Plan was sent by Kim Haakstad, Clark's deputy chief of staff, to the personal email addresses of eight people, including Pamela Martin, who works for the premier's office; Brian Bonney, a former government multiculturalism communications director; and former Liberal caucus official Jeff Melland.
The leaked strategy revealed plans to outflank the NDP in its approach to handling the ethnic media, with the objective to "match and then exceed the B.C. NDP's ethnic media efforts in a place of importance equal to that of so-called mainstream media."
In response to criticisms, Multiculturalism Minister John Yap said the plan was more than a year old and did not completely portray the government's plans for engaging with ethnic communities. "Since coming into the role as minister responsible for multiculturalism, we're reaching out to communities and not following through on some of the ideas that were listed," he said.
Highway of Tears "Triple-Delete" Email Scandal, Cover-ups, Perjury
On October 22, 2015, B.C. Privacy Commissioner Elizabeth Denham published an indicting report, entitled Access Denied, exposing a culture of so-called "triple-deletions" of emails and related cover-ups, including lies under oath, within Christy Clark's government. The report found that the Premier's staffers, including Christy Clark's deputy chief of staff Michele Cadario, and her Transportation Minister Todd Stone, routinely contravened freedom of information laws by bulk deleting emails on a daily basis. The Ministry of Advanced Education was similarly found to be in contravention of freedom of information laws, meant to protect the public's right to hold politicians accountable for their actions.
According to Denham's report, "triple deleting" means first moving an email to the computer system's "deleted" folder, expunging the email from the folder itself, and then manually overriding a backup that allows the system to recover deleted items for up to 14 days.
Tim Duncan, a staffer with the B.C. Ministry of Transportation, was the whistleblower who prompted the investigation. On May 18, 2015, Tim Duncan wrote a letter to Information and Privacy Commissioner Elizabeth Denham in which he related two incidents (in November 2014, and again in January 2015) when he was directed by upper staff members—respectively Ministerial Assistant George Gretes and Liberal Research Director Jen Wizinsky—to erase dozens of ministerial staff emails in response to FOI (Freedom of Information) requests relating to meetings held by officials in the ministry regarding missing women on the Highway of Tears.
"We were triple-deleting emails on a daily or a [twice] daily basis," said Duncan. Duncan provided that he and his colleagues at the Ministry of Transportation triple deleted hundreds of emails every day. "It's quite common to delete emails massively — not any one specific email, but hundreds of emails every night before you go home."
As a result, members of the public who filed related FOI requests, including NDP MLS Jennifer Rice, received the following response: ""No records were located in response to your request. Your file is now closed."
Regarding her Report, Ms. Denham wrote: "It is difficult to overstate the seriousness of the problems that my office discovered in the course of this investigation. It is important that the government take immediate action to restore public confidence in the access to information process."
Transportation ministry staffer George Gretes is said to have lied under oath during the Commissioner's investigation when he denied that he intentionally deleted Highway of Tears emails and records. Denham referred the matter to the RCMP, and Gretes resigned. On March 11, 2016 it was announced that charges have been laid against this former B.C. government staffer in connection with the so-called triple-delete email scandal.
No documentation related to controversial health firings: The government faced widespread public outrage over the controversial dismissal of eight researchers at the Ministry of Health. Despite calls for a public inquiry, and the suicide of one of the dismissed researchers, the government has failed to produce a single email, memo, briefing note or piece of correspondence in response to access to information requests.
No documentation related to the dismissal of government auditor: Requests for emails and text messages regarding Basia Ruta, B.C.'s auditor general for local government who was suddenly fired by Minister Coralee Oakes in March 2013, came back with nothing.
No documentation related to the Burrard Street Bridge scandal: Facing a public backlash in 2015 when it tried to close a bridge for a day-long yoga event that would have cost taxpayers $150,000 and conflicted with National Aboriginal Day, no records related to the decision could be found.
No documentation around the resignation of the Premier's Chief of Staff: In 2012 the Premier's then chief-of-staff Ken Boessenkool resigned after "inappropriate behaviour in a downtown Victoria bar". FOI requests turned up nothing.
Missing 93 pages of agricultural land documents: In 2014 the Globe and Mail asked to see "studies, reports and assessments, including briefing notes to the Premier" about controversial legislation making changes to the Agricultural Land Commission and the Agricultural Land Reserve. They received in response 93 blank pieces of paper.
No record of BC Liberal ethnic outreach strategy: In 2011, leaked e-mails showed the BC Liberals were using government resources to coordinate partisan outreach to BC's ethnic communities. FOI requests turned up no records as the Liberals had been using private e-mail accounts.
No record of Christy Clark and Allison Redford ever meeting: Despite existing CBC video of Clark and former Alberta Premier Allison Redford making an announcement on a new pipeline agreement, FOI searches turned up no related findings.
On July 2011, years before the breaking "triple-delete" email scandal, Clark promised a new era of accountability in B.C. politics, calling it "Open Government". In a videotaped "Message to the Public Service on Open Government" entitled, "Open Data Signals New Direction for BC" she claimed that her government would release more information without the need for freedom-of-information requests, would distribute documents released through such requests through its website, and would post a host of government data online.
2017 re-election campaign
Early in 2016, the BC government hired 12 civil servants that formerly worked for the Alberta government and Canadian federal government.
On September 14, 2016 the B.C. Liberal Party named executive director Laura Miller to be the party's campaign director for the May 9, 2017 provincial election. Laura Miller is facing criminal charges in Ontario for allegedly deleting emails in service with the Dalton McGuinty provincial government.
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Media related to Christy Clark at Wikimedia Commons
|Order of precedence|
as Lieutenant Governor of British Columbia
|Order of precedence in British Columbia
as of 2013
| Succeeded by|
Robert J. Bauman
as Chief Justice of British Columbia