As the May 14 provincial election looms on the horizon, Adrian Dix, leader of the NDP, touched down in Cranbrook on Sunday, May 5 for a day of campaigning in the Kootenay East riding.
Dix arrived early Sunday morning and boarded his campaign bus to make a beeline for Hotshots Cafe in Cranbrook. There he met with Kootenay East NDP candidate Norma Blissett, Columbia River Revelstoke candidate Norm Macdonald and their campaign volunteers. While there, Dix had an informal chat with early risers at the coffee shop.
Next, the campaign headed to the Elko sawmill where Dix spoke to Canfor employees about the business’s investment in forestry in the East Kootenay.
Finally, Dix returned to Cranbrook for an afternoon rally at the Manual Training Centre. NDP supporters greeted Dix in the sunshine outside the event, before filling the centre to hear the NDP leader speak about the campaign now entering its final week.
During the rally, Dix spoke passionately to endorse Norma Blissett for Kootenay East.
“There are nine days left to elect an extraordinary MLA, nine days left to bring change for the better,” he said, citing the NDP campaign slogan.
“This community is crucial. We have never won a general election without winning here,” he went on.
He added that the NDP’s campaign strategy is very different to that of the B.C. Liberals, with the NDP taking a “more generous” path without negative attack ads.
“We are going to take the hard road to victory. We are talking about the issues that matter to people,” said Dix. “Change is possible, change is necessary, and we can do this together.”
It was a sentiment that Dix repeated when he spoke one on one with The Townsman in between appointments Sunday.
“We have run a very positive, very generous campaign,” he said. “What we are trying to do is appeal to the best in people.
“One of the reasons we think that’s important is I think the negative nature of campaigning … is discouraging people from being involved. It leads people to feel like they are excluded from the process including the issues that matter to them,” said Dix.
He spoke about several issues that are important to voters in Kootenay East during that interview, confirming the NDP’s support for mining and forestry, as Teck works to deal with high levels of selenium in East Kootenay rivers downstream of its Elk Valley mining operations.
“We have been very supportive of the mining industry and I think the industry is very committed to addressing these issues,” said Dix.
“We obviously want to see continuing development. It means a lot in terms of jobs here. But I think everyone who works on the projects believes we have to ensure their environmental sustainability.
“We have been very clear that we are saying yes to mining here, just as we were saying yes to forestry today. I think that view is the right view for these times.”
Dix also spoke about the NDP’s commitment to poverty reduction, recognizing that homelessness is a growing issue in Cranbrook.
“I don’t agree with the Liberals that we need to wait 10 years to address serious issues of poverty. That’s why we put forward our B.C. Family Bonus Plan which gets support directly to families in need,” he said.
Dix said the NDP will increase the earnings exemption for people on income assistance from $200 to $400.
“I think that’s the right decision in difficult times and it provides really important incentives for people who are able to work, to keep more of the money they earn.”
He said the NDP will strive to improve classroom education in B.C.
“We need to ensure the quality both of early learning and public education is high. It’s an equalizer,” said Dix, adding that when it comes to post-secondary education, the NDP want to increase completion rates for apprenticeships in B.C.
“That’s giving people the means in their lives to earn family-supporting salaries. That’s a key way to address inequality in the long term. But I think addressing child poverty now is a priority,” he concluded.