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

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

Ron Sivorot, business director at Kennametal’s Langford site, the Greater Victoria facility that made a component being used on NASA’s Perseverance rover on Mars. (Jake Romphf, Black Press Media)
NASA’s Perseverance Mars rover using piece made at Kennametal’s Langford site

The Greater Victoria plant’s tooth blank is helping the rover’s drill collect rock cores

A provincially appointed consultant has recommended a change to the funding formula for the VicPD that will save Esquimalt a significant amount of money. (Black Press Media file photo)
Esquimalt to save a bundle on policing costs under new formula

Provincial consultant studied funding model, resource deployment for VicPD

A rockfall closed Finlayson Arm Road and West Shore Parkway on Friday (March 5) afternoon. (Twitter/BC Transportation)
UPDATED: Malahat reopens following rockfall

Section of Trans-Canada Highway was scheduled for intermittent closures today for rock scaling work

A Victoria resident was scammed out of $1,700 after a fraudster impersonated a police officer and convinced the victim to pay a non-existent fine in Bitcoin. (Unsplash)
Fraudster impersonates Victoria police officer, steals $1,700 in Bitcoin

Phone call showed up as VicPD’s non-emergency line

The Tsartlip First Nation was outraged after Green MLA Adam Olsen revealed on social media that the community had been experiencing a COVID-19 outbreak – a fact the First Nation had chosen to keep private to avoid racist backlash as experienced by the Cowichan Tribes when an outbreak was declared there in January. (Black Press Media file photo)
Tsartlip First Nation ‘outraged’ after Green MLA revealed COVID-19 outbreak

Chief shares concerns about racist backlash, MLA Adam Olsen apologizes

Provincial health officer Dr. Bonnie Henry updates B.C. on the COVID-19 situation. (B.C. government)
Dr. Bonnie Henry predicts a ‘post-pandemic world’ for B.C. this summer

‘Extending this second dose provides very high real-world protection to more people, sooner’

Malawian police guard AstraZeneca COVID-19 vaccines after the shipment arrived in Lilongwe, Malawi, Friday March 5, 2021. Canada is expecting its first shipments of AstraZeneca vaccine next week. (Associated Press/Thoko Chikondi)
B.C.’s daily COVID-19 cases climb to 634 Friday, four more deaths

Currently 255 people in hospital, 66 in intensive care

A crashed helicopter is seen near Mt. Gardner on Bowen Island on Friday March 5, 2021. Two people were taken to hospital in serious but stable condition after the crash. (Irene Paulus/contributed)
2 people in serious condition after helicopter goes down on Bowen Island

Unclear how many passengers aboard and unclear where the helicopter was going

Surrey Pretrial in Newton. (Photo: Tom Zytaruk)
B.C. transgender inmate to get human rights hearing after being held in mostly male jail

B.C. Human Rights Tribunal member Amber Prince on March 3 dismissed the pretrial’s application to have Makayla Sandve’s complaint dismissed

Supporters rally outside court as Pastor James Coates of GraceLife Church is in court to appeal bail conditions, after he was arrested for holding day services in violation of COVID-19 rules, in Edmonton, Alta., on Thursday March 4, 2021. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Jason Franson
‘Law remains valid:’ Pastor accused of violating health orders to remain in jail

The Justice Centre for Constitutional Freedoms is representing the pastor

The Netflix logo on an iPhone. B.C. delayed imposing sales tax on digital services and sweetened carbonated beverages as part of its response to COVID-19. Those taxes take effect April 1, 2021. THE CANADIAN PRESS/AP, Matt Rourke
B.C. applies 7% sales tax on streaming, vaping, sweet drinks April 1

Measures from 2020 budget were delayed due to COVID-19

A lawyer wears a face mask and gloves to curb the spread of COVID-19 while waiting to enter B.C. Supreme Court, in Vancouver, B.C., Friday, Aug. 28, 2020. British Columbia’s highest court has sided with the land owner in a dispute over public access to public land. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Darryl Dyck
B.C. high court finds in favour of large landowner in fight over access to pair of lakes

The Nicola Valley Fish and Game Club launched legal action after the cattle company blocked road and trail access

Prime Minister Justin Trudeau holds a press conference in Ottawa Friday, March 5, 2021. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Sean Kilpatrick
Trudeau holds firm on premiers’ health-care funding demands, COVID-19 aid comes first

Premiers argue that the current amount doesn’t keep pace with yearly cost increases of about five per cent

Free Reformed Church is seen as people attend service, in Chilliwack, B.C., on Sunday, Feb. 21, 2021. Lawyers for the British Columbia government and the Justice Centre for Constitutional Freedoms are back in B.C. Supreme Court today, squaring off over the legality of COVID-19 rules that prohibit in-person religious services. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Darryl Dyck
B.C. top doctor has power to restrict access to a place during health hazard: lawyer

Under B.C.’s Public Health Act, Jacqueline Hughes says, Henry can restrict or prevent entry to a place

Most Read