Clash of visions in political spring

Mike Harcourt endorsed Mike Farnworth as the NDP leader who could reach beyond the party's base. Adrian Dix mocked those who would 'sidle up to the Liberal government

VANCOUVER – My weekend in the big city didn’t lack for variety. It started with Stephen Harper’s defence of business tax cuts, and ended with the election of Adrian Dix as B.C. NDP leader on a Marxism Lite program of reversing this world-wide trend and making the corporations pay.

I caught up with Harper on a tour through swing ridings in Vancouver, including Vancouver South where now-Liberal Ujjal Dosanjh hung on by 20 votes in the last of our semi-annual federal elections.

Harper hit B.C. pleading for a majority to stop this merry-go-round of elections and stabilize the country as a player on the global business scene.

I was granted a 10-minute interview, and one of my questions was about the multi-year program of business tax cuts being completed by both the federal and B.C. governments.

I asked Harper if B.C.’s unemployment and investment performance suggests not all of the savings are being reinvested. That’s because taxes are only one factor, our economist Prime Minister replied. Business confidence has to be there, and that’s why stable, multi-year programs are needed for business plans.

Ottawa has implemented its four-year reduction plan, and Harper noted that B.C. isn’t alone in following suit. Most provinces have cut business taxes, including Liberal and NDP provincial governments, and now their federal counterparts campaign on promises to roll them back.

“And nobody’s doing it,” Harper said. “This is what’s ironic. You look around the world. Ireland’s bankrupt, and it’s not raising its business tax rates. The United States has a deficit three times ours, and President Obama, who’s not on my side of the political spectrum, says they need to lower their tax rates.”

But let’s not let federal or provincial politicians blow smoke that it’s their policies alone that have created 500,000 jobs across the country in two years, or made Canada’s currency soar past the U.S. dollar. Canada’s dollar is now seen as a stable petro-currency in an unstable world, and it’s international lumber markets that have led to double-digit unemployment in many B.C. towns.

Natural gas, and foreign technology and investment in it, have been a key part of B.C.’s recovery. And in general we’re starting to enjoy the effects of a commodity boom.

Then came the NDP leadership vote on Sunday. Here is a party that already has tilted itself toward the urban areas with a one member-one vote system. And it just rejected Mike Farnworth, its most popular candidate and the one with the best effort to emphasize rural and resource development.

Newly anointed NDP leader Adrian Dix is going to raise taxes on banks and those evil corporations, and use the money to subsidize post-secondary education for anyone who wants it.

Meanwhile the reality for post-secondary students is that business programs are tough to get into, because students are lining up to pay the supposedly onerous tuition fees.

Dix’s rhetoric about state-imposed wealth redistribution seems not so much alarming as quaint. It’s his federal counterpart Jack Layton who blithely promises to double a federal pension program, just as Canada’s population approaches the tipping point in 2015, where there will be more seniors than children for the first time in our history.

Where Dix is alarming is when he talks about offering a positive alternative to the B.C. Liberals on the economy, the environment and education.

His convention win was presided over by a former president of the B.C. Teachers’ Federation. The NDP’s environment policy is in disarray. And on the economy, he is diametrically opposed to the global consensus.

Tom Fletcher is legislative reporter and columnist for Black Press and BCLocalnews.com

Get local stories you won't find anywhere else right to your inbox.
Sign up here

Just Posted

Top cop calls video of Kelowna Mountie striking suspect ‘concerning’

A video allegedly shows a Kelowna Mountie striking a man several times

$173K to support Okanagan seniors amid pandemic

United Way announces more funding for frontline programs

Okanagan home sales increase over last month, still below 2019 numbers: OMREB

Sales, listings see increase over May’s numbers but dwindle in comparison to 2019

PPE donation reaches Central Okanagan Elizabeth Fry Society

Ending Violence Association of BC received a $20,000 donation for personal protective equipment

Small business grants available through Okanagan initiative

Susie and Bryan Gay launched ‘This Bag Helps’ to help fellow small business owners during the pandemic

B.C. records four new COVID-19 cases, Abbotsford hospital outbreak cleared

Four senior home outbreaks also declared over, eight still active

Princeton RCMP sergeant kills cougar threatening residential neighborhood

An RCMP officer shot and killed a cougar, close to a residential… Continue reading

Pilot project approved: Penticton to allow alcohol in outdoor spaces

For almost two hours, council debated the proposed pilot project, before eventually passing it 4-2

Drugs, machete found in truck with stolen plate driven by Salmon Arm man

Chase RCMP arrest driver and have vehicle towed

RCMP, coroner investigate murder-suicide on Salt Spring Island

Two dead, police say there is no risk to the public

About 30% of B.C. students return to schools as in-class teaching restarts amid pandemic

Education minister noted that in-class instruction remains optional

Trudeau avoids questions about anti-racism protesters dispersed for Trump photo-op

Prime minister says racism is an issue Canadians must tackle at home, too

B.C.’s Law Enforcement Torch Run for Special Olympics goes virtual

The annual event partnering RCMP with Special Olympians is dramatically altered by COVID-19

HERGOTT: Can you get money back if COVID-19 disrupts plans?

Paul Hergott is a personal injury lawyer based in West Kelowna

Most Read