Politicians are going to have to do things differently if the 1.7 million eligible voters who failed to cast ballots in the last provincial election are ever going to get engaged in the politics, says Adrian Dix.
The first step in that change, he said, is to avoid throwing mud at opponents in negative advertising campaigns.
The leader of the opposition made the comments at a special fundraising dinner for local NDP candidate Barry Avis at the Quality Resort Bayside in Parksville Friday.
Dix said he is committed to taking the high road in next year’s election campaign, noting however that not all parties share his view.
“In the last seven months, the Liberal party and its allies have spent between $2 and $3 million on running personal attack ads against, well, me,” Dix said to the sold-out gathering of over 200 supporters. “In October they ran a negative ad against me on the web and in December they ran another one and set up a new website called risky something and in January they did a $1.5 million ad campaign against, well, me and in the byelection campaign they ran some of the most vicious ads ever run in British Columnbia.”
Dix said the increasingly common response to such a campaign would be to respond in kind, but he stressed he has no plans to do so.
“A lot of people think the way to respond to negative ads is to run negative ads ourselves,” he said. “The reason we are not going to do this is very simple. First, 1.7 million people didn’t vote in the last provincial election. We are not going to bring anybody back to politics by deciding the winner of an election is the person with the best ad agency to run the nastiest negative ads. We need to bring people back to politics and that means offering some hope that change will happen.”
As well, Dix said the politics of division seen in the United States and, increasingly, in Canada, make it virtually impossible to come up with solutions to the very real problems facing the province.
“If we are going to address healthcare issues we can’t be at war with healthcare workers. If we are going to address educational issues, we can’t be fighting with teachers,” Dix said. “The problems of our time … involve multiple layers of government and the community and business and labour and if we continue to engage in divisive politics, it will be impossible to deal with these very challenging issues of our time. So I say we want to do things differently. We are going to roll differently.”