Dix has high hopes for Abbotsford

B.C. NDP leader confident in local candidates

B.C. NDP leader Adrian Dix chats with Abbotsford-Mission NDP candidate Preet Rai and local residents.

B.C. NDP leader Adrian Dix chats with Abbotsford-Mission NDP candidate Preet Rai and local residents.

B.C. NDP leader Adrian Dix says his party’s candidates will “run hard” in Abbotsford in the months leading up to the May provincial election, despite Liberal ads attacking him and the NDP.

“I believe that people in Abbotsford want to see change.”

Dix spoke to media at Afterthoughts cafe in Abbotsford on Monday, addressing what he said is the Liberal government’s misuse of funds on partisan ads, saying it directs taxpayers’ money away from essential services. He said Abbotsford residents should be concerned by the $15 million-plus the government has spent.

“In Abbotsford, those issues ring home, because you’ve got issues in public education, challenges in infrastructure and challenges in health care. There are a lot of things to spend millions of dollars on here.”

Dix said one of the main objectives for an NDP government would be to introduce a private member’s bill ending partisan ads and pass the legislation in their first sitting. The bill would bar any non-essential government advertising in the four months leading to an election and ensure all ads are reviewed by the auditor-general.

“If they want to run these partisan ads, they should pay for it themselves.”

Dix said he feels changes in the Abbotsford community have made voters want to see political change. NDP candidates for Abbotsford ridings include Preet Rai in Abbotsford-Mission, Lakhvinder Jhaj in Abbotsford South and Sukhi Dhami in Abbotsford West.

Independent candidates will run in two of the ridings, with city councillor Moe Gill in Abbotsford-West and incumbent John van Dongen in Abbotsford South. Dix said he is unconcerned by the prospect of vote-splitting and wants to focus on getting eligible voters to place their ballots.

The choice of candidates may encourage voter turnout, he suggested.

Though Abbotsford ridings are often referred to as Liberal strongholds, Dix said they should be called “former Liberal strongholds,” citing the Gwen O’Mahony’s NDP win in last year’s by-election in Chilliwack-Hope as a good example.

“People said it was a Liberal stronghold. We didn’t accept that.”

For now, Dix said it is the NDP’s job to run a clean campaign, highlighting strengths without criticizing others.