Adrian Dix talks Abbotsford issues with The News

Dix cites skills training, agriculture, and transit initiatives as key issues in the Fraser Valley

Abbotsford-Mission NDP candidate Preet Rai

Abbotsford-Mission NDP candidate Preet Rai

Abbotsford has quickly become a key battleground in the upcoming B.C. election on May 14.

Adrian Dix acknowledged the importance of Abbotsford to the NDP’s campaign, as the party leader announced more of their platform on Wednesday morning.

Dix later spoke with The News about why this election is important to people in Abbotsford.

Often seen as a Liberal stronghold, Dix has high hopes for NDP candidates in Abbotsford’s three ridings.

Sukhi Dhami will run in finance minister Mike de Jong’s riding of Abbotsford West, Lakhvinder Jhaj will run in Abbotsford South and Preet Rai in Abbotsford-Mission.

“This is in some respects the first time the NDP has contested Abbotsford in this way, with three outstanding candidates.”

Dix’s morning announcement outlined the party’s focus on skills training. Dix later said this is crucial to the “young community” of Abbotsford, and key to future economic prosperity.

Dix also spoke about the importance of agriculture to the economy of the Fraser Valley and the province. He said agricultural issues will be an important part of the NDP’s platform, and he will soon be announcing those plans.

“What we have in Abbotsford is a symbol of the new economy – where we have manufacturing, and aerospace and agriculture, we have a dynamic university sector… this is a dynamic growing community.”

Transit also topped Dix’s list of key issues in the Fraser Valley, saying the NDP will ensure that carbon tax money goes into transit initiatives. He said in Fraser Valley communities like Abbotsford, where driving is often necessary, residents are contributing the most to the tax and not seeing the benefit.

“Changing the relationship between the taxes we all pay and the services we get is important.”

The NDP outlined in its platform a goal of improving the process of assessing and recognizing the credentials of new immigrants. Dix said that people come to Canada under federal immigration rules, which recognize their credentials for the purpose of immigration, but are sometimes unable to use their credentials under provincial rules. Dix said immigrants are brought into Canada for the value of their skills, which are then devalued when they arrive, stating that this “profound disconnect” is hurting our economy.

“We can’t afford this in our economy, when people are here and can’t use their skills.”

When asked about the party’s position on the proposed WTE incinerator which could potentially be located in the Fraser Valley, Dix said that the airshed in the Fraser Valley was important during SE2 and is important now. He said the NDP will develop a plan to deal with the difficult question of garbage disposal, while the Liberals have repeatedly changed their position on the incinerator issue.

“The Liberals have approved the plan, and they talk about approving the plan everywhere but Abbotsford, and Chilliwack, and Langley.”

Dix said the NDP is going to run hard in Abbotsford, and said the push for Abbotsford ridings will be a much needed change in the community.

“I think communities such as Abbotsford have been often taken for granted because they are seen to be one-party communities. I think it benefits everybody that we see this contest.”