The leader of the B.C. New Democratic Party visited the Okanagan for the third time this year on Thursday.
Adrian Dix spoke to members of the Westbank and District Chamber of Commerce.
Dix said he was in town to “raise issues” that are important to members of the chamber and residents in the region.
“I think that this is a really critical period for the economy in B.C.,” said Dix.
“In the next election, it’s the economic issues that I see as central to the NDP campaign.”
Dix went on to say that he is trying to develop “a more respectful tone” when speaking about politicians in other parties; however, went on to criticize Kelowna-Mission MLA Steve Thomson’s controversial decision to export raw logs to overseas mills.
“Contrary to the advice of his own independent advisory committee, (Thomson) allowed the export of raw logs from the province . . . it has denied B.C. manufacturers access to B.C. trees.
“If we allow our manufacturing base to continue to erode in the short term pursuit of dollars abroad, in the long run, we’re going to lose that manufacturing base.”
When asked to comment on the current situation between the teachers and the B.C. government, Dix said it’s “really an unfortunate dispute.”
“The government’s position in this dispute is that (they) won’t negotiate working conditions and (they) won’t negotiate wages. If you don’t negotiate wages, if you don’t negotiate working conditions, you’re not likely to get into an agreement.”
Dix noted that he voted against Bill 22 because he would’ve liked to have seen mediation take place.
“Teachers are angry about this; they feel disrespected. The intent of the legislation was to promote a political view that targeted teachers, I just think that’s the wrong approach.”
The B.C. NDP leader also spoke about the B.C. Jobs Plan, HST and challenges faced by single mothers.