The campaign to replace former BC NDP leader Carole James is heating up as six candidates have thrown their hat into the ring.
One of the candidates, health critic Adrian Dix, swung through the Comox Valley last week to speak with party members and the public about local and provincial issues.
The MLA for Vancouver Kingsway sees some “real possibilities” in the Valley and the entire Island, which Dix said is the strongest NDP pocket in B.C. in terms of votes.
He feels Vancouver Island residents have received the “short end of the stick” from the BC Liberals — which he says helps to explain why the time has come for an economic plan that will benefit all British Columbians.
“The current government has the worst record on economic growth of any government in my lifetime,” said Dix, who has also served as critic for children and families.
He feels cutting child protection, freezing and reducing the minimum wage, introducing the harmonized sales tax and other such measures has widened the level of inequality in B.C.
“It’s been harder and harder for people on middle incomes to make ends meet.”
Dix feels the now-defunct provincial sales tax is a viable alternative to the HST, as will be offered in the upcoming provincial referendum on the HST.
“The government misled people in the election campaign; that’s well known,” said Dix, who has opposed the HST for at least 15 years. “It’s a shift in taxation onto small business and onto lower-income people. It’s been bad for the economy. It’s costing jobs and it’s now creating uncertainty.
“We need to take action. If I were elected leader of the NDP and there’s a referendum, I’d be campaigning for an end to the HST.”
During his visit, Dix spoke at length about health care concerns, particularly the acute care bed situation at St. Joseph’s and other B.C. hospitals.
“Acute care beds are not being used as acute care beds,” he said. “That’s because there’s inadequate alternatives and appropriate levels of care.”
The NDP leadership campaign concludes April 17 when party members vote in a new leader to replace James, whom Dix supported.
Dix’s competition for party leader includes Port Coquitlam MLA Mike Farnworth, for whom Dix was campaign manager in 1991.
Oddly enough, Farnworth was one of two candidates to complain about irregularities in the signup of members to support Dix. The other complainant was Fraser-Nicola MLA Harry Lali, another leadership hopeful who demanded a review after seeing Dix’s campaign workers bring in membership forms to meet the party’s deadline last Monday.
Dix said the party is dealing with the situation.
“It’s building interest,” he said.
“The party has the responsibility to adjudicate these matters, and I have confidence that they will. My job is to get out and talk to the voters, including those signed up by other candidates, and trying to convince them I’m the right person to lead the NDP.
“I think if we deliver a platform that people view as both exciting and realistic, if we hold the Liberals accountable and we do our job, then we’ll win the next election. We’ll win it here in the Comox Valley … No NDP government has ever won a general election without winning here.”