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VANCOUVER — Christy Clark springs out of her chair after she sees four kids waving at her through the restaurant window.
“Hold on a sec,” the B.C. Premier tells me, gesturing to them to meet her inside. She poses for photos with the four smiling elementary school pupils, who are on a family outing to Vancouver from the nearby community of Abbotsford in British Columbia’s Fraser Valley.
We are two-thirds of the way through our lunch, seated in a corner of the Fairmont Waterfront Hotel’s Arc Restaurant with a great view of the North Shore mountains. It’s a convenient spot because it’s across the street from her downtown Vancouver office. I remark that someone was bound to recognize her and want to meet her. “It’s not that often that kids do,” she says. “I kind of thought that I should reward that attentiveness.”
Two years after the B.C. Liberals were re-elected with a majority government, Ms. Clark isn’t showing any signs of rust when it comes to her campaign skills. Whether it’s connecting with kids who are still many years away from voting or telling the server that she loves the soup of the day, her ability to launch a charm offensive won’t be easy for Opposition NDP Leader John Horgan to counter in the next provincial election in May, 2017.
Ms. Clark’s confident outward appearance masks her cautious attitude toward political life. “I never, ever take anything for granted in politics because I’ve lost before and it hurts,” she admits at the start of our lunch, between sips of skim-milk cappuccino. “Losing sure teaches you a lot about humility and never taking anything for granted.”
She recalls the 2013 B.C. election campaign, in which she led the B.C. Liberals to a surprise majority victory, but lost her own seat in the process. She later won a by-election in Westside-Kelowna, which put her back in office. “I’m never overconfident. I know you have to work every minute to succeed,” she says.
It’s a message that’s no doubt resonating next door in Alberta, where the Progressive Conservatives under Jim Prentice were tossed out of office May 5 in a provincial election that saw Rachel Notley lead the New Democrats to an upset majority win. Ms. Clark got along with Mr. Prentice, who resigned that night as Alberta Progressive Conservative leader.
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