My wife Dorothy and I recently had coffee with Adrian Dix. We were meeting to discuss diabetes and how in a nonpartisan way we can help people recognize the symptoms
(A story in the Vancouver Sun on Dix and how he discovered he had diabetes was the key to me going and getting tested. I owe him big time for that).
Like so many good politicians whom I have met, Adrian in person is far more dynamic than his TV personality. I feel the exact opposite about many of the other politicians whom I have encountered who had great TV personalities, but often were horrible when seeing them outside of the television glare. René Lévesque was the exception, who was both memorable on TV and great in-person.
But I digress. The coffee was supposed to be a short one, but it lasted one and half hours. The discussion centered mostly on health care in B.C., an obvious passion with Dix, but he allowed both Dorothy and I to lament the lack of a strong negative campaign. Without being defensive, he explained some of the reasons and why some of the more controversial decisions were made.
Although I did not agree with all of his reasons, many of his historical and budget rationales made sense. More importantly, Dix showed that he had learned from the “tactical” errors made during the campaign.
As someone who was impressed by the vision of British Columbia that Dix expressed during the election (and dismayed at the tactics), I was intrigued by Dix’s vision of where the party will have to go if it wants to expand its base. His vision gives hope that the party’s base can be expanded without selling out its soul. To me that is an even more important issue than who will lead the party.
The coffee discussion was not an “on-the-record interview", rather a frank talk between two fellow travellers. I won’t divulge any of the “meat” of the conversation, but hope his views will become public over the coming months before the November convention. One thing he did not divulge—nor did I ask—was his intention to stay on as leader of the party. He threw a few teasers by pointing to former Manitoba premier Gary Doer’s election defeats before winning, and then followed by another teaser that said he planned to be an MLA for a long time.
It is no secret to those who have read my thoughts that I have not jumped on the bandwagon to get rid of Dix. I think Dix has become one of the NDP’s best assets—a leader who has been tested by fire and, more importantly, through that experience will become a better leader and perhaps become the next NDP premier.
I have said it before and will say it again. There were very few of us who said as loudly as I did during the election campaign that the tactics were wrong and that we had to hit hard. A scant few of us were willing to say that our leader is good, our policies are good, but we need to focus on the failures of the B.C. Liberal government. Hit them hard.
Most folks I met on the campaign trail were eagerly following the “play nice” campaign and it is those folks who are now ready to throw Dix out with the bathwater.
He continues to be our leader. The very least we owe him is an opportunity to listen. What went wrong? What could we have done better? How should we proceed in the future?