B.C. VIEWS: Dix seeks balance

Columnist Tom Fletcher speaks to Adrian Dix, leader of the official opposition

NDP leader Adrian Dix has completed year-end interviews with members of the legislative press gallery. Here are highlights from my discussion with him.

TF: On the Kinder Morgan oil pipeline expansion proposal, federal NDP leader Tom Mulcair says the federal environmental process would have to be strengthened before a project like that could get a thorough enough hearing. Do you agree?

AD: The B.C. Liberal government has signed an equivalency agreement that says that the federal decision is the provincial decision on these projects. If it applies to Enbridge Northern Gateway, presumably the B.C. Liberals would apply it to Kinder Morgan.

They could have done a joint process, where (the final decision) would have gone to both cabinets. They chose instead to give up jurisdiction. They were so afraid of making any decision on Northern Gateway that they sent it over to the federal government.

So what we’ve said is within a week of coming to office, we would end that equivalency agreement, and British Columbia would make decisions about both Enbridge Northern Gateway, which applied in May 2010, and any other pipeline, including the Kinder Morgan proposal, for which no application has been made.

Obviously it would have been desirable for everyone had they chosen a true joint review, as they have in Site C (dam proposed for Peace River), as they did with Kemess North (rejected mine expansion proposal) and other cases.

TF: You don’t want duplicated review processes here, you just want a provincial cabinet say in the decision?

AD: That’s right.

TF: On your relationship with the B.C. Federation of Labour, your caucus is considering a proposal that B.C. should once again do away with secret ballots for union certification.

AD: The B.C. Fed makes a case to the government on a series of issues on employment standards every year. Labour law, every year. WorkSafeBC, every year. Trades and training, every year.

With respect to (accepting signed union cards for certification), it is a democratic process that the Newfoundland Conservative government just put into place a few months ago. So it’s a proposal from the labour movement and we’re looking at it.

For most of B.C.’s modern history, since the Second World War, we’ve had that card-check system in place. The question would be whether (returning to that system) is a priority for this term in government.

TF: So those kinds of things will be made clear in your platform?

AD: Absolutely.

TF: You picked up some serious money from the business community at a fundraiser in October. Is that some kind of a record for the NDP?

AD: (Laughs.) It might be a record, I don’t know. I think the business fundraiser we did at the Hotel Vancouver netted $350,000.

I think what it reflects is, this year I’ve had about 230 meetings with the business community. The purpose of it has been principally to build understanding, particularly on issues of skills training. With the priority I give to skills training, I think I’m much more attuned to their concerns than the government has been.

TF: I suppose that kind of success in fundraising might make it more difficult to follow through with your pledge to ban corporate and union donations.

AD: I don’t think so. The B.C. Liberal Party has a very high level of corporate donations as a percentage of its total. We’re overwhelmingly dependent on individual donations. We get support from unions, but it’s not even close to what people would think.

Tom Fletcher is columnist for Black Press and BCLocalnews.com tfletcher@blackpress.ca

 

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