"A nation's greatness is measured by how it treats its weakest members." That's one of provincial Liberal Victoria-Swan Lake candidate Jesse McClinton's favourite quotes, according to his Facebook page. So what would the originator of that quote - Mahatma Gandhi have to say about the Campbell administration, which has - according to First Call BC - presided over the highest rate of child poverty in the country for the past five years?
That's the question we put to Mr. McClinton on Public Eye Radio. His response: "Well, I definitely don't want to put words into his mouth. But I think that the BC Liberals have started to take some good steps forward. I know right now we currently pay - the working class pay the least amount of taxes - actually nobody pays taxes for under $16,000. I think that's something that is an initiative that can start to make some headway along that issue."
"I think it's a challenging issue and a challenging task," he continued. "And I think in the last couple years there's been some headway on this issue. And I think this is something that I can help with and bring to the table if I'm elected to the legislature. I think with some of my past experience in the public sector this is something that I would like to advocate for and speak out on. It's a sad issue."
But why do we have the highest child poverty rate when the economy has been booming? Why hasn't progress been made? "I don't have a specific answer for that. I haven't been working in government for the last five years. All I know is what I can do moving forward on the issue."
Nevertheless, isn't there a contradiction between running for a party with a poor record in addressing child poverty and believing how we treat such children is a measure of our greatness? "I don't think there is a contradiction. I think that the people I talk to within the party care about this issue. And, you know, It think we're working hard to try to make progress on this. We don't get it right all the time. But I think this is something I can bring to the table. And, amongst all the other things we're doing very well, I hope this is something I can advocate for and support."