Adrian Dix’s Not-So-Secret Agenda: NDP leader won office making promises on smart meters, raw logs, women’s equality and much more

Andrew MacLeod,

A New Democratic Party government led by Adrian Dix would expand child care, reduce fees for seniors’ long-term care, ban the cosmetic use of pesticides, put a moratorium on independent power projects, stop renovictions and create disincentives for exporting raw logs….

A Dix government would start a Ministry of Women’s Equality, get rid of the foundation skills assessment (FSA) for students and allow teachers to negotiate class size and composition as part of their contract bargaining. It would reinstate a tax on financial institutions and raise corporate taxes.

Those commitments and others, all publicly available, run contrary to an assertion that has become common in Victoria that Dix won’t say what he wants to do if the NDP forms government.

With the NDP ahead in the polls, Premier Christy Clark’s talking points in the past year have included suggestions that Dix has a secret plan for the province. …

In one year-end interview Dix said people wanting to know what an NDP government would do should look at what they supported as opposition in the last year, rather than dwelling on what’s been unsaid.

More instructive is to look at what Dix said in early 2011 while he was running for the NDP leadership, a time when he stressed he was being specific about his promises in his appeal to party members to vote for him. They include proposals that would change the economy, health services, education and the environment.

Some of them Dix has repeated frequently since becoming leader, but many of them he has not. While they may not add up to a full platform and they leave policy gaps, it is worth remembering what they were.

Raw logs and women’s equality

While the website for Dix’s succesful leadership bid appears to have disappeared from the internet, The Tyee held onto copies of his announcements. In some cases they are specific about dollar amounts, in some they just indicate his intentions, and in others he identifies policy changes that would transform sectors without great expense to the government.

Following are commitments on some of the province’s higher profile issues:

– “I am committed to a Ministry of Women’s Equality to ensure that all agencies and all ministries are moving forward on issues impacting equality for women, including the Premier’s Office,” announced Dix. “The Liberal decision to scrap the ministry was a step backward that I will reverse”;

– “I am also committed to expanding legal aid and supporting and financing women’s centres and centres dealing with violence against women”;

– “I am committed to expand child care, to initiate a provincial childcare system and to pressure Ottawa to play a major role in such a system”;

– Reversing the BC Liberal’s hike in fees for seniors in long-term care, which in 2011 transferred a $54 million government expense to seniors and their families;

– Stopping the smart meter program;

– Placing a moratorium on independent power producer contracts;

– Renewing the B.C. Utilities Commission process to restore public accountability, restoring moves in recent years that took things like smart meters out of the BCUC’s review;

– Enforcing employment standards and improving “the provisions for workers seeking to organize and bargain collectively”;

– Reversing B.C.’s position on the Comprehensive Economic and Trade Agreement (CETA) with the European Union to protect the province from “soaring” prescription drug and health care costs.

Health and education

Several proposals addressed education:

– “Changing the school funding formula to help keep schools open” and “increasing the resources and services for students”;

– Ending the current Foundation Skills Assessment program (see Sidebar) and replacing it with something more comprehensive;

– Restoring teachers’ right to negotiate class size and composition;

– Eliminating the interest on student loans;

Creating a grant program for post-secondary students with a budget of $100 million a year, building on a plan to restore grants of $18 million a year distributed based on need, and spending $30 million towards eliminating the interest on student loans….