Posted on 20 April 2011 by admin
OSOYOOS TIMES-April 20, 2011
By Karissa Gall – Osoyoos Times
The BC NDP elected a new party leader on the night of April 17 after a third round of voting brought the three-month leadership race to a close and named Vancouver-Kingsway MLA Adrian Dix as the winner.
Dix, who also serves as the opposition caucus deputy house leader and opposition critic for health, received 9,772 votes in the third and final leadership ballot, with runner-up Mike Farnworth receiving 9,095 votes.
In his acceptance speech, Dix rallied his caucus colleagues to “get down to work and defeat the BC Liberals.”
“We have to win the next election and we have the team to do it,” he said. “With our united team working together, we are going to present an agenda to British Columbia that is going to win the next election.
“We’re going to do it by offering a positive agenda, on the economy, on public healthcare, on the environment, on education; we are going to bring change to British Columbia, by offering a real alternative to the 1,400,000 people who didn’t vote in the last election.”
Two days after he was voted in as party leader, Dix told the Osoyoos Times that the Okanagan Valley was one of his strongest areas of support in the leadership campaign and that, if elected, his government would address issues that hit home for many residents of rural British Columbia, such as extending grants to agricultural growers and having B.C.’s health care system purchase locally-grown produce.
“I’ve been really focused on agricultural issues, especially the concerns and the problems in the tree fruit industry,” he said. “I have a very specific proposal and we’re going to be raising this issue in the Legislature when it opens next week.”
Dix said his proposal includes instituting a $7.5 million Growers Production Program that will provide fruit producers with grants to purchase equipment, with funding for the program coming from the $385 million that he plans to add to the treasury by rolling back corporate taxes to 2008 levels.
He also plans to expand the revenue base for growers through a program that will have hospitals buy locally-grown food, including fruit.
“I’ve also been raising issues of healthcare in the Okanagan for a number of years,” he said. “Currently there are some serious issues from Oliver to Osoyoos in terms of rural healthcare. We see the centralization of care in Kelowna, the failure to even fix equipment that’s been broken.
“One of the things I propose is a rural health plan to restore some services to rural communities.”
He added that addressing issues in public education, especially class size and composition, and preventing school closures will also be a priority.
“I’m very determined to make the Okanagan a high priority for the NDP if we win an election and to make it a high priority in the election,” he said. “We’re going to campaign in the region like we never have before, everywhere from Vernon to the border. And it’s my intention to visit Osoyoos and Oliver very soon.”