Adrian Dix is eager to give voters in Chilliwack-Hope a representative in the legislature.
The NDP leader visited local senior care homes on Sunday with byelection candidate Gwen O’Mahony and stopped into businesses along Wallace Street before meeting with party supporters and canvassers at PapAndreas Greek Taverna for dinner.
“Clearly the Liberal party is reluctant to call the bylection for their own partisan reasons, but in the meantime the people who are actually living in the communities are getting less than all the other communities. I don’t think that’s fair,” said Dix.” There’s no reason why the byelection shouldn’t be called. I think we have to look at whether giving the government this long to fill these vacancies is a good thing for the public interest, and I don’t think that is the case.”
Dix criticized the Liberals for recent funding announcements in the riding, noting support for the community should be available every day and not just when the party needs votes.
“I guess what they’re saying is having the seat vacant is better for the community than having an MLA,” he said. “It’s good when things happen and the community deserves support for its activities, but I think people are justly concerned that they’re only paying attention now because the Liberal party is concerned about its own political misfortunes.”
Dix said the NDP will run a positive byelection campaign this year and avoid running personal attack ads like the Liberals and its allies. The Independent Contractors and Businesses Association recently released an ad on a Chilliwack radio station slamming Dix for “forging a memo to cover for Premier Glen Clark in the casino kickback scandal” in 1999.
“I made a mistake and I take responsibility for that, but we’ve now had 11 years of Liberal government and I think the Liberal party is sadly acting as if they should always be government,” said Dix, adding that the use of negative attack ads demonstrates the Liberals don’t want to run on their record or ideas.
“There’s lots to criticize the government for and we’ll hold them accountable for that. We won’t have won because we were negative and ran down our opponents, we’ll have won because we’ll have earned the trust of people.”
Dix sees the economy and efficient health care as two crucial issues in the area. He said the centralization of services has really hurt communities like Hope. The need for transit in the region is also not being met “in a significant way” to assist residents required to travel out of town for services such as a dialysis clinic. Dix said carbon tax funds are being mismanaged by the Liberals. He would like to see that money go towards subsidizing tax cuts that took place in 2008 and transportation initiatives.
“People are paying more in carbon tax or gas tax and not seeing any improvement in transit and alternative services,” he said. “What you’re essentially saying to communities such as Hope is they have to move closer to services and not stay in a community. That hurts every business in Hope.”
Skills training is another key regional issue Dix would like to address. He said almost 43 per cent of young people in the Chilliwack and Fraser-Canyon school districts access post-secondary education after graduation. The provincial average is 54 per cent.
“The provincial government tells us that 80 per cent of the jobs of the future require post-secondary education. So our job is to close that gap because it will hurt economic growth if our workforce isn’t adequately trained,” he said. “The good thing for Chilliwack-Hope is they’re going to have an opportunity to decide on some of these key issues. We’re giving people an alternative and I think that’s exciting for people.”
For more pictures from Dix’s visit to Hope on Sunday, visit www.facebook.com/HopeStandard.
(On Thursday morning, Premier Christy Clark announced the Chilliwack-Hope byelection will take place on April 19.)