Adrian Dix’s breakfast stop in Penticton yesterday was ostensibly to promote the “scrap the tax” side in the Harmonized Sales Tax referendum, but felt a lot more like a campaign stop for a yet-to-be-called fall provincial election.
To be sure, the leader of the provincial NDP said he wants people to get out to vote in the referendum and do away with the HST, but he also used the opportunity to chat about how an anti-HST vote will help to send the governing Liberal party a message.
“We’re in the last 10 days of what has been a two year campaign. Almost exactly two years ago, after the provincial election, the liberals brought in the HST. And the sole public policy purpose of the HST is to shift the tax burden on to middle income people,” said Dix. “Had they told the truth in the election, Carol James would be leader of the province. Everybody knows it.”
Dix said that right from the announcement of the HST, the Liberals have tried to mislead the public and frustrate questions about the tax.
“They said, in writing, that they weren’t going to bring in the HST, then they brought in the HST,” said Dix, who also accused the Liberals of wasting tax dollars on pro-HST advertising. “At a time when they are closing group homes for adults with developmental disabilities, they are spending $7 million on liberal partisan ads to mislead people on the HST.”
Dix also said the only thing that can save the HST and the government now is a low turnout.
He warns that if the turnout is as low as it was in the last provincial election (38 per cent), there is a chance the Liberals and the pro-HST camp may win.
“I am determined to talk to everyone I can and in every community I can,” said Dix, who has stopped in 30 communities so far on this junket. “I think people are going to show up and vote. I think there is going to be a yes (scrap the HST) vote, and that is going to be the first step to bringing about a change of government in B.C.”
It’s a change and election that Dix seems to be looking forward too, even while pointing out that the Liberals will be breaking their own legislation fixing the timing of elections to call one in the fall, two years ahead of the scheduled 2013 date.
“It won’t be the HST, it won’t be the public interest. The only issue that Christy Clark will consider in calling an election is Christy Clark’s polling numbers,” he said. However, Dix also thinks the NDP has a good chance of swaying Penticton voters.
“I think there is a historic opportunity to win this seat. We ran a strong campaign here last time. I think this time we are going to be able to unite all the people that want to see a change,” said Dix. “We are going to win Penticton in the next election. Competitive politics has come to the Okanagan.
“I believe the Okanagan has been poorly served by the liberals. They’ve taken people for granted for years.”
Dix is also taking the opportunity of his visit to the South Okanagan to chat with local growers about a three-point plan he wants to promote for their industry: recreating the Buy B.C. program, support for investment in the land base and setting up a local procurement plan for government agencies like school districts and health authorities.
“They are just not getting anything near the cost of production right now and we need to give them some support,” said Dix. “It’s an industry that is going to be important to this community for years to come.”