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

Just Posted

B.C. reservists gather for military communications training in Chilliwack

Canadian Army’s communication skills are used in battle as well as domestic emergencies

VIDEO: ‘Heroes’ rescue teenager trapped in vehicle in water-filled ditch in Chilliwack

Two men sprang into action, holding 17-year-old’s head out of water as they pried open door

Sarah Wark rallies to beat Prince Edward Island at Scotties Tournament of Hearts

Wark wasn’t at the top of her game, but her team did enough to improve to 6-3 overall.

GW Graham junior boys play underdog role at basketball provincials

One of two at-large seeds in the 32 team field, the Grizzlies face a tough opponent out of the gate.

Unfinished business for GW Graham basketball Grizzlies at AA provincials

GWG’s senior girls squad advanced to the final before losing in 2018 and look to win it all in 2019.

Sell regulated heroin to curb B.C.’s overdose problem: report

B.C. Centre on Substance Use points to organized crime and money-laundering as contributing factors

B.C. legislature moving suspended staff controversy to outside review

Whale watching, Seattle Mariners trips billed as emergency preparedness, Speaker Darryl Plecas says

Two boys saved after falling through ice in Coquitlam

RCMP say a Good Samaritan pulled the kids to safety

More people signing up for compulsory vaccines

Maple Ridge mom says public tired of hearing about measles

UPDATE: Man charged in stabbing of woman, off-duty cop outside B.C. elementary school

Manoj George, 49, is facing two counts of aggravated assault and two counts of assault with a weapon after the incident on Wednesday, Feb. 20.

Why do zebras have stripes? Perhaps to dazzle away flies

Researchers from University of Bristol look into why zebras have stripes

Poll: More voters believe Canada doing worse under Trudeau government

22 per cent believed the country is doing better and 27 per cent said things are the same

HBC shuttering Home Outfitters across Canada

North America’s oldest retailer is revamping its various stores to improve profitability

BC SPCA investigates Okanagan woman with prior animal abuse convictions

BC SPCA is investigating a property near Vernon

Most Read