Dix feels Okanagan ridings winnable turf for the NDP

NDP leadership candidate Adrian Dix feels he learned some valuable lessons while serving as former B.C. premier Glen Clark’s chief of staff from 1996 to 1999.

Adrian Dix speaks to the local media on Monday about his decision to seek the leadership of the NDP as former local candidate Tish Lakes

NDP leadership candidate Adrian Dix feels he learned some valuable lessons while serving as former B.C. premier Glen Clark’s chief of staff from 1996 to 1999.

One is to not over-promise to the electorate what the goals of your government will be if elected.

“You can’t try to do everything over the course of a four-year term,” Dix said, saying he would prefer to set achievable objectives and then make sure an NDP government, led by him, would make those commitments a reality.

Dix was in Kelowna on Monday as part of a swing through the Okanagan, sewing up support for his party leadership campaign.

A number of high-profile local NDP supporters and past electoral riding candidates turned out to express their support for Dix, who has been a frequent visitor to Okanagan ridings since he was elected.

What has brought Dix to Kelowna frequently, he said, was the concerns about health and education issues that aren’t being addressed by the current Liberal government or the three Central Okanagan MLAs.

“They have taken (the Okanagan) for granted for far too long and I truly believe people want to see a change, they want to see a government in power that will listen to them,” said Dix, the NDP’s health care critic.

Dix said his leadership campaign is built around three principles: The need to restore adequate funding to both education and health care, and to see more consistent growth in the economy.

On health care, Dix said the Liberals have maintained the acute care aspect of health care, but post-acute care and preventative health have both suffered badly.

With education, Dix said the Liberals have downloaded school program costs to individual school districts, then cut the funding to allow those programs to be funded.

Dix said in an era where many people work at four or five different careers during their working lifetime, post-secondary education access to new skills and retraining are essential.

Dix also said the carbon tax, which former NDP leader Carole James first came out in support of and then opposed in an embarrassing political flip-flop, would stay in place under his leadership.

“I would not dismantle the carbon tax. It was created for a specific purpose, and not to be used to subsidize other tax breaks,” he said.

Dix is a controversial figure in the NDP race, both for his history with Clark in which he backdated a memo to provide political cover for his boss from a police investigation. And he generated controversy last week by showing up at the party office to file his nomination papers coupled with boxes and bags of NDP membership forms, and separate boxes and bags of cash to pay for them.

All of the local NDP members who showed up at Dix’s meeting expressed their support for him to the local media.

Eileen Robinson, a past NDP candidate, said she supported Dix because she feels he’s a politician that people can believe in.

“He has a vision for our province and he’s willing to listen,” said Robinson, a retired teacher. “We have a government now that doesn’t hear us. We bring up concerns about what’s going on in our schools and it just falls on deaf ears.”

Maria Tokarrchak, another past NDP candidate and a retired nurse, said health care is also a concern, particularly if Liberal leadership candidate Kevin Falcon wins.

“I fear where our health care services are going, especially if Falcon wins as he will be pushing for more privatized services. “He will do that as much as he can get away with it under the Canada Health Act.”

Other NDP party members expressed their support for Dix, pointing to their concerns about the health care system as retirees.

Tisha Kalmanovitch, another former NDP candidate, said she appreciated the level of intelligence that Dix would bring to government.

“I question the level of grey matter with many of our current politicians, but not so with Adrian,” said Kalmanovitch.

Dix is up against fellow MLAs Mike Farnworth, John Horgan and Harry Lali along with Nicholas Simons and Dana Larson. The party’s leadership convention will be April 17.

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