NDP leader Adrian Dix has some big plans for the Okanagan.
The Okanagan, he said, has suffered from not having competitive politics. He plans on taking some seats away from the provincial Liberal party to change that.
“In other words, the Liberals have treated this place like they own it, like it is one party,” said Dix. “I respect the voters and we will see what they decide, but we are going to compete in every seat. We think we can win every seat. We are not going to treat this area as if it is a Liberal area.”
The Okanagan, he said, has been a focus for the NDP, especially since he took over as leader a year-and-a-half ago.
“We are going to win seats in the Okanagan. I have come back to the Okanagan again and again. I think this is my 26th visit in the last 18 months” he said. While Premier Christy Clark was considering calling an election last year, he said the NDP was planning their own strategy.
“If she had called an election, I would have been in Vernon, Kelowna and Penticton the first few days of the campaign, that was our plan at the time,” said Dix. The strategy may be different when the 2013 election comes around, but Dix said the Okanagan will still figure prominently, especially Penticton.
“We are planning to compete everywhere in this region, but Penticton is a seat that we held between 1991-96. We’ve a base of support. The message we are sending is that we are going to work here and I am going to be here all the time, myself personally, to lead that campaign,” he said. “Our plan is to take this territory back.”
Though the next provincial election is still months away, Dix said the NDP is getting ready, hoping to follow up their by-election victory in Chilliwack with substantial wins in other liberal strongholds.
One good sign, according to Dix, is the number of nomination races going on in NDP constituencies. Boundary-Similkameen already has a candidate in place, and two nominees, David Finnis and Dick Cannings, have confirmed that they will be vying for the Penticton candidacy.
“Those two have been approved, those two are going forward, they are great candidates representing different parts of the community,” said Dix.
While the Liberals are still having trouble in provincial polls, Dix said the NDP doesn’t want to win just because the government is unpopular.
“We want to win because we are responding to people’s concerns,” he said. “We need a mandate. And if the mandate is only because people aren’t happy with the premier or the liberals or whatever, that’s not the mandate we are looking for.”