Carole James promises NDP will 'fight clean'
Carole James is promising a clean fight, at least from the NDP side of things.
That was just one of the messages she delivered at a party fundraiser dinner on Thursday (Feb. 28) at the Newlands Golf and Country Club.
The dinner was organized by Andrew Mercier, the party's candidate for the Langley riding. Mercier will challenge incumbent MLA Mary Polak. The Conservative Party candidate is leader John Cummins.
While the Liberal Party may be running personal attack ads in advance of this May's provincial election, the NDP will not resort to those tactics, said James, the Victoria-Beacon Hill MLA and former NDP party leader.
"We are not going to put the same kind of effort forward," she told the crowd of roughly 50 people.
"Not being personal doesn't mean not being tough, we are going to be tough on the issues, we are going to have good strong debates, but you are not going to see personal attacks coming from the NDP in this campaign."
B.C. voters go to the polls on May 14.
James said it is important to change the perception that politics has to be a blood sport.
"It is long past time to prove we can change the way we do politics in B.C." she said. "Because what is happening with that kind of cutthroat politics is we are driving people away.
"We are driving people away from voting, we are driving away good people from getting involved. If they figure (personal attacks) is all that it is about, they won't get involved."
With Adrian Dix as the party's leader and polls showing a strong lead for the NDP, James said it is important for the party to portray the proper image, as it hopes to reclaim the legislature for the first time since losing the 2001 election.
"Because that kind of modelling is going to take us out into what we hope we will be offering to the public as a government: a government that they can trust, a government that respects them, a government that listens and reaches out," James said.
"We have been knocking on a lot of doors these past few months, and I am happy to report that a lot of people want a change in the government," Mercier said during his speech to the audience.
But he also heard one message which he found frustrating.
"People are not planning to vote," he said. "I am hearing that almost as often as people saying they want change.
"It is so frustrating to hear that, but you can only hear that so often before you ask why. People aren't voting because they understand what the problems are and they don't trust the government to fix them. And the reason they don't trust them is because this government has lost credibility with the public completely."
He cited 2009 specifically.
In the first instance, there was no talk whatsoever of the Harmonized Sales Tax during the election, and then a short time later, the controversial tax was instituted. The other example was the government claiming the budget deficit was a half billion dollars, only to later reveal it was actually four times that size.
"It has caused a profound loss of faith with government and the only way we can restore that faith is to actually follow through on our actions," Mercier said.
"This current government is completely out of gas and have stopped asking themselves the political questions. They don't care if it fair or just, they just care what the polls say.
"And that kind of credibility gap they are suffering right now, isn't something 17 million in government advertising is going to fix.
"What we need to do is say what we are going to say and then do exactly what we say," he added.
"We need a government that listens to people and is responsible."
James also touched on a number of other issues.
She called the budget "empty on approaches to the challenges we are facing as British Columbians and the issues that matter to this province."
"We didn't see anything (in the budget) that represents the kind of things that I hear and Andrew hears and the rest of our candidates hear on the doorstep every day," James said.
James also called it a bogus budget which is using tricks by selling off assets that belong to the people of the province.
"You don't sell off the family silver to try and balance the budget one time," she said, also pointing out that with the challenges the real estate market is currently facing would not return the maximum value.
James also said the budget is underestimating costs, especially in health care, and cutting programs and services for the people who can least afford it.
She also touched on making education more affordable.
"If we are going to build a strong economy and create jobs, the best way to do that is to invest in our best resource we have, which is people," James said.
"We have a huge resource in our people. Those people should have a chance to go to post-secondary, have an education, be able to get apprenticeship and trades training, that is how we are going to build a strong economy is by investing in people and creating those jobs."
James also discussed making better use of the province's existing resources, expanding the Buy BC program, reducing poverty and opposing the Enbridge Pipeline project.