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B.C. premier hugs trees, shoots hoops, tosses baseballs at Prince George stop

PRINCE GEORGE, B.C. - B.C. Premier Gordon Campbell dropped his serious campaign tone Wednesday and took time to hug some trees, shoot some hoops and toss a few baseballs.

PRINCE GEORGE, B.C. - B.C. Premier Gordon Campbell dropped his serious campaign tone Wednesday and took time to hug some trees, shoot some hoops and toss a few baseballs.

Campbell, who has been known as a bit of a stiff character in previous election campaigns, seemed to be in the mood to let loose while inside the Charles Jago Athletic Centre in Prince George.

"Wood is good," said Campbell as he wrapped his arms around a huge wooden beam at the athletic centre located on the campus of the University of Northern British Columbia. The Liberals are promoting wood as the construction material of choice in the province.

Barely three hours before the Prince George stop, Campbell was in Vancouver delivering his Liberal Party's election platform. He said the Liberals will take a proven and steady approach to steer the province through rough economic times.

British Columbians vote on May 12. Campbell is seeking his third consecutive mandate.

But once Campbell stepped inside the athletic centre, he seemed to put the economic issues aside. He took off his jacket and tossed out two pitches as members of a local senior men's baseball team watched.

The athletic facility includes an indoor field with turf, gymnasium and the largest indoor running track in Canada.

Warmed up playing baseball, Campbell couldn't resist shooting a few baskets with female members of the university's women's basketball team.

His first shot missed, but one of the players said, "close, you hit the rim," adding the premier's aim may been off because he was shooting with a girl's ball, which is slightly smaller.

Campbell gave up after missing three more shots.

Forests Minister Pat Bell, a Prince George MLA, sunk a basket on his second attempt.

"There goes the cabinet post," said Bell.

Campbell said Prince George, despite a massive downturn in the forest industry, has turned itself into a northern powerhouse with a diverse economy.

"Prince George is a very important centre for British Columbia," he said. "Often people from the south don't realize what a critical part of our economic and social future it is. It's going to be the centre of a major international crossroads."

He stopped at the $32.5 million Simon Fraser Bridge project to talk to construction workers as they piled enormous pieces of rebar.

Crane operator Curt Shewchuk of Port Alberni said he is happy to be working in tough times. He said he hasn't had much time to consider who he will vote for in the election, but as a father with a child with a disability, his vote will go to who he thinks will help his child.

Campbell also toured a construction site for a seniors facility that is scheduled to open this fall.

 
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