Daniel Veniez: Adrian Dix is the reason I'm voting B.C. NDP for the first time in my life

I'm progressive, but not of the ideological left, and pragmatic, not of the doctrinaire right. I am a moderate and in the sensible centre.

Socialism was a failed experiment. A robust private sector, including free trade, drives the innovation and wealth creation that funds our social programs, health care, infrastructure, and education system. All of which improves our quality of life.

In my 12 years in British Columbia I have been a reliable B.C. Liberal voter. I believed that Gordon Campbell’s government was a generally good and sensible one that fixed a big mess created by Glen Clark’s NDP. I strongly supported Campbell’s change of heart on treaties, his fiscal and environmental policies, and essential changes to the Forest Act.

Campbell tried hard to improve the investment climate in British Columbia, and by and large, succeeded. Despite the unforgivable arrogance and cynicism of its implementation, I supported the HST—a sound tax policy that would have strengthened Canada’s economic union and the competitive posture of B.C. businesses.

Campbell was also a positive and constructive voice in the federation. He worked hard to tear down interprovincial silos and dampen regional tensions. In many ways, this approach personified the openness and confidence of British Columbians. I was proud that the voice of B.C. in the affairs of the nation was a soothing, hopeful, and accommodating one. That mindset served British Columbia and the country well.

So, despite some of its weaknesses, the B.C. Liberals of Gordon Campbell was a party that I could stand behind. Sadly, I cannot say that today.

I have never voted NDP in my life, and I can never imagine voting NDP at the federal level, especially not with Thomas Mulcair as leader. Among other things, his cynical pandering to Quebec separatists is unconscionable for any national leader. That alone disqualifies him.

In British Columbia, voters have only two parties to choose from. On May 14, I am voting B.C. NDP.

There are two reasons for that. The first is Christy Clark. The second is Adrian Dix.

Clark’s gaffe-prone, content-free, divisive, and ethically challenged tenure as unelected premier of B.C. has been well chronicled. Many citizens, including me, have been embarrassed by it.

In hindsight, it is significant that none of her former caucus colleagues, save one, supported her bid to win the leadership of the B.C. Liberals. They clearly understood that Clark is quite simply not up to the job. The past two years have painfully illustrated the wisdom of their judgment.

Clark had a magnificent opportunity to forge an agenda for the future and take the premiership for a substantive test drive to solve some pressing challenges in education and health care.  She deserves credit for raising the minimum wage. That was long overdue. But since then, the record has been marked by nothing of any significance to citizens, and much distraction that underscored the incompetence and emptiness of the B.C. Liberal government under her leadership.

The core of her relentless electioneering is anchored on a fantastical notion that B.C. will be “debt free” in 15 years through liquefied natural gas. This is based entirely on the incredibly dubious premise that the stars of a volatile and highly cyclical commodity business will align exactly as she predicts. The reality is that none of us—including those within the industry who would make these multibillion investments—has the foggiest clue whether any of this is fact or fiction.

But common sense should tell us this: if Clark has made a career out of smoke and mirrors, we should be deeply skeptical about this new card trick. For my part, I’ll wait to see real companies actually announce their intention to invest, real First Nations announce their intention to support these projects, real customers ready to sign up for long-term contracts at reasonable prices, and real analysis into the environmental impact of a massive extraction and fracking process.

This “debt free BC” slogan is a whopper from Clark whose entire government has been punctuated by advertising, gimmickry, and endless photo-ops. It simply defies all credibility because it is based on nothing more that a hope and a prayer.

Clark’s administration has not even pretended to govern. Like him or hate him, Campbell governed. Clark’s has been government by cute slogan and bumper sticker, not policy and leadership.

Before and during the current campaign, Clark embraced the politics of opportunism, from being a Filipina, to throwing Premier Alison Redford under the bus, to making the pilgrimage to Preston Manning’s "conservative movement" jamboree in Ottawa. The pattern is predictable: all politics, all the time, and doing whatever it takes.

Most disconcerting of all is Clark’s propensity to prefer a good sound bite to immersing herself in the plumbing of governing and leadership. The political zinger and attack ad always trumps the facts, evidence, decency, or due process. Brian Hutchinson of the National Post recently wrote: “Christy Clark’s campaign strategy is to misinform, mislead and make up stuff.”

In many ways, Adrian Dix is Clark’s polar opposite. He said the other day this campaign isn’t about him; it’s about us. Indeed it is.

Dix is a refreshing change. He’s a humble and quiet man, not given to exaggeration nor to fits of narcissism. Not a “natural” politician, Dix is nevertheless obviously comfortable in his own skin. Well read and well briefed, Dix knows his files, understands the machinery of government, and has a great appreciation for what government can and can't do.

Age and experience have matured him. He was elected to the legislature and paid his dues as an informed, thoughtful, and energetic health critic. When the leadership opened up, he ran, won, and united a fractious party and caucus around a moderate approach.

Dix has tried to do politics differently and has waged an honourable campaign. His bet is that the people prefer to be told the facts, hear more than talking points and platitudes, and want the straight goods, even if they sometimes may not like to hear it. As a voter, I like the idea that a political leader assumes that I am intelligent, and not a moron that falls for incendiary, superficial, and ultimately misleading sound bites.

Dix grew up in a home where his parents, some business owners, had to meet a weekly payroll. He knows how vital a vibrant private sector is to the collective good. The idea that B.C. will be nationalized upon the election of a Dix government is offensive to the intelligence of voters. CEOs and capital-market participants have spent quality time with Dix and know full well that he will be a responsible and intelligent steward of the public purse.  

As premier, Dix will restore honesty and substance in Victoria. He’ll bring sober, deliberative, and collaborative leadership to the premier’s office. He’ll attract good people from across the ideological spectrum. He’ll govern the province as he has his own party: by appealing to all of us to come together to achieve solve problems. He'll work hard to restore faith in our public institutions and trust in the competence and professionalism of government.

Under new leadership, I want the B.C. Liberals to become a constructive voice in our legislature and, over time, earn back the respect that they've lost. That can never happen with Clark, so the rebuilding of the B.C. Liberals should begin on May 15.

All of us want competent, honest, and accountable government that appeals to the best in all of us. Adrian Dix will do that. That’s why the NDP is getting my vote on May 14.

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

Comments (22) Add New Comment
Tim
I applaud this fellow. I too would simply not be able to vote Liberal with all the corruption , lies, and Christy Clark. I am truly amazed people are able to allow their integrity a back seat, when we know so much of the Liberals outright dishonesty. Truly, another 4 years of arrogance and feeding from the public trough? There is a reason she is going so hard on the lies and fear mongering, she is scared to death of what will be discovered when the NDP get in. A web of deceit I have no doubt.


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Nora
This is the best, most intelligent, and most honest explanation I have yet read for why we all have a responsibility to understand the issues, what's at stake, and not be hijacked by negative attack ads. Our judgment compels us to vote for anyone but christy.
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Frank
Really great and very clearly articulated position. Should give us all great pause to consider the choices in front of us.
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Maureen Johnston
Wow! What a wonderful and powerful column this is. Seems to be very sincere and heartfelt. The facts are very hard to dispute, here.
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Andy
Once again, this writer hits a home run with such clear and concise prose, and logic impossible to challenge. I hate Gordo, but I respect Veniez's point of view on this and have great admiration for the candour and for having the courage of his convictions.
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Mario Denigri
The writer nails it. Anyone voting for Christy Clark simply has not paying attention. I'm not an NDP'er by a long stretch, but I prefer Dix to Christy Clark any day of the week.
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Mayhan
The intellectual honesty of Veniez is incredibly refreshing and inspiring. The gentleman is not a partisan mouthpiece or paid shill. he is a concerned and engaged citizen that always presents ideas in a thought provoking manner. I like this very much. I agree with him and his 2 reasons for making the choice he has. Veniez has also laid it out in an extremely persuasive argument. Thank you very much for this!
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DavidH
This is the first opinion piece I've ever read that causes me to question/doubt my long-standing support of the NDP.

The author remains a staunch supporter of Campbell, one of the worst and most destructive leaders in BC history. The retroactive praise is nauseating. And this is a person of good judgement?

The author has the same level of credibility as former-everything Gordon Wilson, but on a different team. Go away, both of you.
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Just Wondering
Great article! It's good to see someone tell it like it really is. Personally I just can't imagine another four years of this fiasco. We are in truly terrible times.
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Dave
Good article, I agree with what's said about Clark and Dix but not Campbell, he does not deserve that much praise, he set the stage for the IPPs which we will be apying dearly for the BC rtail scandel and the sale of so many of BCs assets, and he was a drunk driver!
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susan
Absolutely excellent article, balanced, well thought out and well written. What I find extremely disappointing is that Christy and the liberals are closing in the polls. I can not understand people, , people seem to spend more time picking their starbucks then deciding important issues that will effect us for the next 4 years. Anyone who takes the time to open their eyes and their minds and just look at the facts could simply not in good conscience vote liberal
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DavidH
@ Susan (et al): But somehow you think it's okay for a long-time, loyal defender of Gordon Campbell to staunchly defend that premier's atrocious treatment of BC?

All it takes, for you, is an articulate column? A column that expresses hope for the revival of the pathetic BC Liberal Party?

If you are puzzled about why voters have continued to elect BC Liberal governments, just look at your own reaction to this article. Like many others, you have been duped. Again.
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Shannon
I can't vote NDP, but I have a lot of respect for Mr. Veniez, what he says, and how he says it. I agree that Clark is weak, underwualified to benpremier, and even a phony. Even that can't convince me to vote NDP. I'll do something else, like vote Conservative, if there's a candidate in my riding. But vote NDP? Never.
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aardvark
I find it ridiculous that the writer doesn't think the Liberals have done a good job, yet he thinks Mr. Dix is any better. BASED ON WHAT????? Adrian Dix betrayed the trust of voters when he forged a government document during a police investigation. He then took a $70,000 severance paycheck after betraying that trust (yes, $70,000, more than most people earn in one year). Yet Mr. Dix thinks he deserved that severance. Mr. Dix slammed the Liberal for selling off Crown properties, yet he wants to sell BC Place. He decided to come out against the Kinder Morgan pipeline despite having PROMISED to at least wait until the application was submitted. In effect, he dismisses it without actually studying the proposal. And his party wants to require open ballots when voting on union issues. Funny, he would never advocate an open ballot for political office because the general public would howl, just union matters where his union cronies and handlers dwell. Now that the New Debt Party actually has to articulate their platform, the polls are slipping fast. The more Mr. Dix talks, the worse he sounds.
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DavidH
@ Shannon: Care to explain your reasons for never voting NDP? Maybe one reason? Half of a reason? Anything useful?

Or do you believe that some sort of unnatural bias is sufficient?

As for alternatives - it's May 8 today, which is less than one week from election day. Why don't you know if there is a Conservative candidate in your riding?

Have you paid any attention at all?
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susan
@DavidH - I do not agree with the writers opinions of Campbell. Personally i think campbell will go down as one of the worst premiers this province has ever seen, second only to christy. However I do very much agree with the writers balanced moderate article. This is NOT a time for divisiveness, there has been far too much of that with campbell and clark in my opinion. One of the things I particularly like about Dix is his respectful attitude towards all and his attitude of inclusion. and this writer really points that out. The fact that he is a former liberal voter only makes the article more powerful , and may well make other undecided voters rethink things and that can only be good for BC. As for the revival of the liberal party, you couldnt be more wrong. ,I have no interest in that in its present form, but every good democracy needs a strong opposition, whatever its called, an opposition with fresh people and fresh ideas( we saw what happened in 2001 when there wasn't one and campbell was given free reign,-though i doubt anyone would be as autocratic as he was )
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Dean
WOW!... as well as this article is written, there are a number of massive red flags. I have bookmarked this page and the comments. If Dix wins and there is a good chance, lets see where things are in 3, 6 and 9 months... I cant wait to say I told you so...
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James G
While I take issue with the dismissal of Mulcair and the praise for Campbell, there is a theme here that may resonate.

Firstly, to put things in context,the BC Liberals are now just running a fear campaign. There was nothing else left at the bottom of the barrel. I won't say fear campaigns don't work or are unique to the right because I remember Vision Vancouver's "Watch Out, the Big Bad NPA May Return!" campaign, which looked a bit like the current Liberal camp except replace NPA with NDP. This one has a different and desperate tone though -- it almost seems that they themselves, while not buying the lie are indeed afraid. One has to wonder of what it is that they are afraid?

Look too at the time servers, second raters and has beens the BC Liberals have managed to run as candidates. Their biggest actual assets might be Gabby Kalaw (not yet ever elected to anything) and Peter Fassbender (if not parachuted). Their star candidate in Quilchena looks to me like the King of all Yes Men (unfortunately not the comedy group). Why would right leaning voters want to send this team to Victoria?

Their party has no anchors to any particular direction nor principle at this time. For those wondering where the centre is and who occupies it, I can understand the confusion. There is simply no predicting the course of a re-elected Christy Clark government. I know this can be said of any administration in trying times but electing an NDP government could restore the principle of alteration, correct some false steps, examine some issues anew and likely do so with considerable public input.

We now have recall and referendum legislation and there simply will be more accountability because should it come to that, the public will force it.

BC Liberal voters could just decide to clean house -- to sweep their incumbent MLAs aside by voting NDP as Mr. Veniez has decided or choosing other alternatives. If there is an NDP government (and there is no way of knowing this) and the provincial political right must restructure, why do it with this team?

Candidates in 'unwinnable' ridings are often guided mostly by principle, are more moderate and tend to dilute grand schemes.in fact, a large majority can be a problem for a new government. If Hope can elect an NDP MLA, so can Kelowna and so can West Van. There are many reasons to vote for them, so please consider doing so.
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John
Very biased article indeed. I think the author just hates Christy Clark more than he likes Dix. Dix has shown nothing at all on how he will improve BC. He's just going off of the opposite of what Christy will do.

Care to explain what Dix has said how he will improve BC? How is Dix any better?

The most recent campaign is focusing on Liberals introducing HST and how it will cause debts for taxpayers.

Really? Might want to ask the business owners and a lot of us that receive GST/HST credits..
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kim
This article is well written and I applaud Daniel for having the courage to speak about Adrian on a positive level and not engaging in a despicable attack on him using fear mongering and hateful innuendos. Many voters are turning to Adrian Dix for leadership and are truly voting for change. He is not making false statements but rather being truthful to the voters on what his mandate is going to look like. The Liberal party is in disarray because of Christy's lack of understanding of what British Columbians care about, she only sees it through one vision and that is her conservative point of view. Seriously, what has she done since she was appointed premier? Okay she raised the minimum wage and introduced Family Day. Adrian Dix truly understands how politics work and is very knowledgeable about this province, he is out there campaigning for the good of BC, not the destruction of BC. Many voters recognize this, and are repeating the slogan, "Change for the better, one practical step at a time".
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