B.C. NDP leader Adrian Dix spoke to the Vancouver Board of Trade on September 18, 2012, about B.C.’s economic future. In “LOOKING AHEAD: B.C.’s Economic Future,” Dix spoke of the B.C. NDP’s general direction and priorities when it comes to advancing the economy of the province. While the Vancouver Board of Trade event did not reveal any new or unheard-of policy positions from Mr. Dix, it was an informative, lively event for the business community of Vancouver.
He started by outlining his personal philosophy about partisan politics and the danger of trying to do too much as a provincial government. Dix believes that politics in British Columbia has been degraded to name-calling and personal attacks, and this has alienated many of the voters from public participation – only 51% of eligible voters in B.C. voted in the 2009 election. Mr. Dix also cautioned the crowd, like he has in the past, that if his party takes over government next spring, they will not bombard the public, businesses and the public service with a deluge of new legislation and policy changes. Dix believes that smaller policy changes, more carefully executed, will be far better at bringing about gradual change to the governance of the province.
Adrian Dix’s main economic priority is creating a better-educated British Columbia. He focused mainly on post-secondary education during his speech, stating that over the next few years, 80% of the jobs created will require some form of post-secondary education. He promised to reinstitute non-repayable, needs-based government grants to post-secondary students. In terms of skills development and training in the trades, he said that B.C.’s education institutions, such as BCIT, need to be better equipped with modern technology and tools in order to create a more able workforce. In order to fund these measures, Adrian Dix called for a 2% increase in corporate taxes, increasing from 10% to 12%, essentially by restoring corporate taxation levels — including financial institutions — to 2008 levels. On other taxation matters, he stated the following:
Adrian Dix believes that the B.C. economy needs to be driven by sustainable measures. He called for better forest management and more hands-on monitoring and evaluation programs in the Ministry of Forests. Also on the topic of forestry, he spoke about the need to end the current government’s export of raw logs. Dix said that in no way should raw logs be exported from the province and that we should only export manufactured products in order to secure the jobs and economic benefits here in the province.
Mr. Dix spoke about environmental assessments and the role the province must play in ensuring sustainable economic development. He noted that in the previous five years, the amount of time it takes to get a mine permitted has almost doubled and that this bureaucratic delay is unacceptable. He argued that B.C. needs better human resources, both in terms of volume and decision-making power, to more efficiently permit projects across the province.
However, when speaking further on environmental assessments, Mr. Dix backtracked on his willingness to remove regulatory red-tape and reiterated his position that the province needs to have its own, independent environmental assessment of projects in the province – specifically highlighting the Enbridge Northern Gateway Pipelines project. He argued for a disaggregation of the federal process and a return to two separate reviews (federal and provincial) for this project. He indicated that once in power he would immediately rescind the 2010 Equivalency Agreement with the federal government that allows for the National Energy Board’s environmental assessments to apply in B.C. with respect to the Northern Gateway project, and presumably would hold a similar position with respect to the proposed Kinder Morgan project.
For more on the call for separate provincial environmental assessments, including two opposing opinion pieces on the matter, see the following links:
— Jessica Davies