If hes elected premier, B.C. New Democratic leader Adrian Dix says hell consider repealing the provinces balanced budget legislation.
Isnt it the height of absurdity to have a balanced budget law when you dont balance the budget? Dix asked while answering questions from reporters after his address to the Union of B.C. Municipalities convention in Victoria on Thursday.
The Liberals brought in their balanced budget legislation in 2001 and amended it in 2009.
Dix said he doesnt agree with balanced-budget legislation.
I would rather have balanced budgets than balanced budget laws, he said.
The government has already effectively repealed the law, Dix said.
We havent had a balanced budget in four years. Theres no balanced budget law, he said while stressing hes committed to balancing the budget over a four-year business cycle.
Finance Minister Mike De Jong called Dixs comments troubling.
I think its troubling that one of the first specific policy pronouncements we would hear from the leader of the NDP is that he doesnt want to be constrained even by that imperfect instrument, De Jong said.
The fact that legislation requires the government to seek permission to run a deficit is important, he said.
Meanwhile, Dix told municipal leaders from around the province he plans to take the high road in his campaign for the premiers office, saying he doesnt plan to engage in personal attacks.
(One of my goals as leader of the NDP has been to change the way we engage in politics [and] to make it more positive; to make it less personal, Dix said. The Liberal ad agencies may soon run out of ways to rhyme or do double entendres with my last name.
But he said despite his differences of opinion with other provincial party leaders, it serves no purpose to tear down these good people personally and I am not going to do it.
He drew applause from municipal leaders when he said they should be the ones to decide whether to use private-public partnerships on major projects and not be dictated to by the province; that local representative roles on the transit board and in the creation of mountain resorts should be fully restored and that Tourism B.C. should be an industry-led, independent agency that is formula funded and that can reflect communities.
I think the change to centralization of that agency has taken away power in communities and the ability to plan, Dix said.
Dix promised to reinstate non-refundable student grants and take steps to rebuild the apprenticeship program in B.C..
He said British Columbia should have more say about the proposed Northern Gateway pipeline project.
I think it makes more sense to say well make a decision here based on evidence we have here than it does to suggest well provide an approval and then harass the companies after they get environmental approval in the permitting process.
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