VANCOUVER – NDP leader Adrian Dix used his first speech to the Union of B.C. Municipalities Thursday to attack a series of B.C. Liberal moves, from imposing a municipal auditor to restricting local government control of transit funding.
Dix also zeroed in on the B.C. carbon tax, calling for the revenues to be directed to new transit in Metro Vancouver and energy efficiency projects in rural areas.
"One of the real disconnects in our society is that we establish a carbon tax, we pay a carbon tax, and none of the money from that carbon tax, not a dime, not a centime, not a ruble, goes to pay for any kind of environmental infrastructure," Dix said.
Speaking just before delegates voted on a motion objecting to a new auditor, Dix said the province should have shown more respect for local governments by consulting them first on the cost of the auditor and the limits on its authority.
Speaking to reporters after his speech, Dix said he isn't "hostile" to the idea of additional oversight on municipal spending.
"I think it's a slight to have a proposal where you don't say what the funding is, or when you imply that the problem is with levels of taxation, and then you say you're not reviewing those," Dix said.
Responding for the government, B.C. Liberal MLA John Les said he was "puzzled" why Dix criticized increased accountability for local governments. And he said he won't take lessons from the NDP leader on consulting with local government.
"I was a mayor in the '90s, when the premier that he was directly working for said, and I quote, there is taxation room at the municipal level," Les said. "And boy, did we get screwed over."
Dix also called for a review of municipalities' ability to purchase locally, saying 60 municipalities have policies to spend in their communities. The B.C. government has restricted that ability in a trade agreement with Alberta and Saskatchewan.