Daniel Veniez: NDP Leader Adrian Dix bears no resemblance to B.C. Liberals' caricature

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      British Columbia’s Opposition leader, Adrian Dix, isn’t surprised that the budget tabled by the B.C. Liberal government plagiarized major features of NDP policy. What genuinely astonishes Dix is the unconcealed cynicism of the B.C. Liberals.

      “The public deserves better than a government that sees the budget as an exercise in game theory,” Dix told me this week.

      He has been on the receiving end of a relentless barrage of paid political attack ads. In them, he is framed as a radical left-wing ideologue that will inflict irrevocable destruction on B.C.’s fragile economy. The bluntness of the B.C. Liberal “free-enterprise” story line is shrewdly reinforced by a $15-million taxpayer-funded government advertising campaign.

      Polls seem to show that the scare tactics are falling on deaf ears, and use of public funds for pre-election advertising is further eroding the already tenuous standing of Clark’s B.C. Liberals.

      Dix remains philosophical about the personal attacks: “I don’t let it distract me; but I do worry about how it affects my parents.”

      However, Dix is anguished at the lack of civility in public life and the consequent corrosion of trust in government. “There’s a reason why people are voting less, why young people are turned off and disengaged from the political process, why trust in their elected representatives is so low."  

      The B.C. Liberals have been working to define Dix and the NDP as a band of anticapitalist, antibusiness, class-warrior ideologues determined to tax and spend the province over a precipice. Dix shakes his head and laughs at the line of attack.

      “A healthy and growing economy is not secondary; it’s absolutely fundamental," he says. “Without a vibrant and competitive private sector, nothing else is possible.”

      Dix grew up in an entrepreneurial family. Until it was sold recently, his parents were the owners of a small but very successful insurance brokerage business in Vancouver. The Dix family is close, and they raised Adrian to value hard work, education, fiscal prudence, and fairness.

      Dix worries about growing income inequality and wealth gap. “The levers at the disposal of a premier are very limited," he acknowledges.

      He dismisses that old conservative economic bogeyman of “redistribution” as neither desirable nor feasible. “My goal is to address the predistribution of wealth through smarter and better investments in education and skills development.”

      Dix’s economic policy approach is as practical and rooted in common sense as they come. The precondition for social justice is a growing economy. A competitive tax regime, skilled and educated workforce, judicious use of tax dollars, sensible environmental stewardship, and honest government are how Dix plans to get there.

      Despite B.C. Liberal claims that provincial books are in balance, Dix believes the province is in structural deficit. He rejects balanced-budget legislation as political gimmickry, pointing to the consistent deficit-spending ways of the current government.

      He told me that he has no plans to increase personal income taxes beyond what was just announced in the provincial budget.

      “There’s little room for a tax increase”, he stated.

      As far as corporate taxes go, Dix is holding to a one percent increase to 12 percent, which restores the 2008 level.

      In a preemptive move designed to show that he plans to raise the bar on appointments to the public service, Dix recently announced that Don Wright would become deputy minister to the premier. Wright earned a doctorate in economics at Harvard and is a highly respected senior executive with deep private- and public-sector experience.

      While taking nothing for granted, Dix is intent on making his time in government count. He is a reflective, not an impulsive, manager, and wrestles with making the right choices within the fiscal and policy constraints that he’ll likely inherit. 

      Contrary to the caricature Christy Clark is attempting to define him, Dix’s approach is reality- and evidence-based, not ideological. And his management style is professional and measured.

      In stark contrast to Clark, office staff has not changed since Dix became NDP leader and caucus is united behind him. That includes his predecessor, Carole James, whom Dix is proud to say plays a key role.

      So my free advice to fellow free enterprisers of the world is this: be not afraid and breathe easy. If Adrian Dix becomes premier, B.C. will be in capable hands.

      Daniel Veniez is a former federal Liberal candidate in West Vancouver–Sunshine Coast–Sea to Sky Country. Follow him on Twitter @DanVeniez.

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      Frank DiBarella

      Mar 1, 2013 at 8:27pm

      Thank you Mr. Veniez for such a fair and reasonable article.

      Georgina

      Mar 1, 2013 at 8:29pm

      I have read many of Veniez's articles and opinion's. I may not always agree, but he is always very much on point and never sugar coats anything. It is obvious that he is not a partisan shill for anyone and also knows a good man when he see's one. Kudos!

      Susy Norway

      Mar 1, 2013 at 8:31pm

      Great article. Finally someone with some business background and experience takes on those liars who keep trying to scare people into voting for that phoney Christy Clark and her corrupt party.

      Donald Bernstein

      Mar 1, 2013 at 8:33pm

      I read a op-ed from Mr. Veniez a long time ago about the fakeness that we know as Premier Clark. It was around the time of the premier conference back east and she was grandstanding about no money, no pipeline. This guy called her out on her act then and he is on target again with this one.

      Slack-jawed

      Mar 1, 2013 at 8:48pm

      Hey Veniez, I thought you were one of those nasty partisan types? But then again, maybe I think all you politicians are. Looks to me like you may be a welcome and refreshing exception. Thanks for being fair and honest and treating Adrian with the respect that those of us who know him understand he has earned.

      Sherry Halliday

      Mar 1, 2013 at 10:25pm

      It is really nice to have a straightforward and honest assessment from Daniel veniez on the subject of Adrian Dix and the NDP. When he ran to become my MP, my husband and I said to each other that this man is to honest and not a partisan lip reader. Peop,e with their own mind nd voice don't get elected, even if the people say we like them. Veniez is one of those. How sad for us that he is not on public life.

      Gordie

      Mar 1, 2013 at 10:28pm

      The Libs are toast and not a second too soon. I've gotten over the het and Gordon Campbell. But the more I see of tht lying Christy Clark and her thug Rich Coleman, the more angry I get. And to think - the people didn't elect her and she sits in the premiers chair!

      cHriSTy

      Mar 1, 2013 at 10:46pm

      You may have gotten over HST and Gordo, I haven't.
      I'm STILL paying HST, how about you??

      eddy lang

      Mar 2, 2013 at 5:28am

      Mr. Dix needs and will have his day....it will be interesting to see how the NDP will deal with the mess the Liberals have left him....to start, it is time that the new government (NDP) stop supporting private funding to private schools....the money saved should go into public education. More money in health is important, and buying back BC Ferries. no selling off of BC Hydro..no selling off government lands. just a few thoughts.....

      Joanne Allan

      Mar 2, 2013 at 8:09am

      I really enjoyed this article, especially coming from Mr. Veniez. It's honest and his perspective is objective. I'm sure that if he thought Mr. Dix was bad for the BC economy he'd have no hesitation to say so. The fact that he has only good things to say, speaks volumes for me and should for others that have been sitting on the fence like I was.

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