NDP Leader Adrian Dix brought predictions of victory for both his party and local candidate Barry Avis when his big, orange bus made a brief campaign stop in Parksville on Thursday.
"This seat right here in Parksville Qualicum is one of the most important seats in all of British Columbia," said Dix. "We've got to make it happen together — Barry's victory won't just be Barry's victory, it will be all of our victory."
Dix, as he did the last time he was in Parksville March 4, had nice things to say about the B.C. Liberals, both here and province-wide.
"The Liberals have a good candidate running in this constituency (Michele Stilwell)," said Dix while surrounded by supporters — including local school board chair Lynette Kershaw — in the tight quarters of the Avis campaign office on the Island Highway in Parksville.
"They have good candidates running across the province. They are good people. The premier is a good person — but this is a Liberal party that desperately needs some time in opposition."
Dix also spoke about his party's platform in relation to education and skills training and other issues he said look more to the future than the policies of the B.C. Liberals.
"We are going to keep taking that long-term approach," he said. "It's not as, shall we say, exciting as some people would like, but it's what British Columbia needs right now. We're going to inherit a very difficult financial situation and we know it. There are some things we would like to do that we are not going to be able to afford to do and we're making that clear as well."
After his speech and some glad-handing with supporters, Dix took time to answer questions from The NEWS, specifically about issues raised last week by Trade and Tourism Minister Pat Bell. The Prince George MLA said last week at Tigh-Na-Mara an NDP government would close trade offices in China and India, offices that are and will be crucial aids for the tourism industry in Parksville Qualicum Beach.
Bell also said Dix, when speaking to the Council of Forest Industries (COFI) conference in Prince George, said government does not have a role in the development of foreign markets.
On Thursday in Parksville, Dix fired back.
"I actually think on some of those issues Pat has done a good job but (his suggestion and NDP government would close trade offices in India and China) is completely wrong," said Dix. "They will stay open."
And as for his speech to COFI?
"I actually praised Pat in that speech," said Dix. "What I said up there is governments tend to take credit — it's the companies that put aside their competitive differences and worked together to build the markets. It's a not a dispute between Mr. Pat Bell and myself - he's wrong and I'm correct. And government has a crucial role. Pat's going to just have to learn to take a compliment."
The provincial election is May 14.