The provincial election campaign officially starts on Tuesday and the BC Liberals hope to get ahead of the game with a platform dedicated to Vancouver Island.

The political party launched the first ever island platform in Victoria on Monday.

Front and centre on the platform is a promise to make BC Ferries cheaper for regular islanders through tax deductions, saving families up to $250 a year.

“The status quo BC Ferries are an impact on middle class incomes,” said Don McRae, Liberal MLA for Comox Valley. “For that reason not only are we going to leave it at status, we’re going to actually make sure there’s savings.”

The party also vowed $25-million in new money to improve safety on the Malahat and a pledge to try and bring the Commonwealth Games back to Victoria in 2022.

“Not only can we celebrate some great athletic successes federally, but also there’s some great housing opportunities as well,” McRae said. “It brings federal investment to our region.”

The platform also included a review of the governance of the Capital Regional District and working with communities on possible service integration of amalgamation, if residents support it. 

A University of Victoria professor says he’s not surprised by the promises made in Monday’s presser.

“There’s a big wooing game going on this time. I think the Liberals like their chances not only holding their two seats, but maybe winning another one or two on the island,” said Michael Prince. 

The BC NDP will announce its full official platform later this week, but say any Liberal promises for the island are too little too late.

“I think it’s typical of what we see with Christy Clark and what we see with the BC Liberals, when it comes election time they all of a sudden try and make you forget there’s 16 years of record,” said Carole James, NDP MLA for Victoria/Beacon Hill.

Meanwhile the Green Party says it too will roll out the remainder of its platform in the coming weeks, but it’s skeptical of the Liberals' need for an island-specific platform.

“The Liberals to suggest that they are releasing a platform for Vancouver Island speaks to I think the 16 years of neglect that most of the communities on Vancouver Island have felt,” said Green Party candidate Sonia Furstenau.

The Liberals are seeking a fifth consecutive mandate when British Columbians head to the polls on May 9.

With files from CTV Vancouver Island's Robert Buffam