BC's Clark loses top spot to Newfoundland's Dunderdale in report on premiers

Newfoundland and Labrador Premier Kathy Dunderdale and BC Premier Christy Clark.



VANCOUVER -- Premier Christy Clark has surrendered B.C.’s top ranking in an annual Fraser Institute survey measuring the fiscal management of Canada’s premiers.

Clark’s management of government spending, taxation, and debt and deficit ranked her fourth in the survey behind Newfoundland Premier Kathy Dunderdale, New Brunswick Premier David Alward and Saskatchewan Premier Brad Wall.

Clark replaced former B.C. premier Gordon Campbell who finished atop the rankings the previous two years.

“B.C. is one of the largest provinces in Canada, so that’s a noteworthy slip,” report co-author Charles Lammam said. He pointed to the province’s expanding deficit over the past year as the biggest factor in the new ranking.

“The previous premier, over his first six years, was pretty aggressive in reducing debt and that was in part driving his top performance.

“Now we’re going in the other direction and I think that’s a key reason why there’s slippage.”

Lammam said Campbell was also aggressive in reducing corporate and personal taxes, while Clark has already signaled her readiness to raise corporate taxes. He said Clark did score well in one area.
“Premier Clark has done reasonably well on spending ... It’s been status quo, minimum change.”

Clark has vowed to bring in a balanced budget next spring, even as the province’s latest fiscal update projects deficit for 2012-13 growing unexpectedly by $328 million to $1.47 billion.

And while it may be NDP Leader Adrian Dix who is assessed by the next Fraser Institute survey after next May’s provincial election, Lammam said several NDP premiers have scored well in the survey in the past.

However, he warned against Dix’s suggestions of higher taxes for corporations and higher income earners.

“If taxes are too high on businesses or individuals ... people will invest less and work less. It’s something any premier should avoid,” Lammam said.

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