The provincial New Democratic Party says it is starting a “positive” ad campaign Monday in four Liberal strongholds as a signal it will contend with the ruling Liberal party in all 85 ridings in the May 14 election.
Victoria NDP MLA and former party leader Carole James told reporters in Vancouver Sunday that the ads — which feature leader Adrian Dix and will run on TV stations in Dawson Creek, Kamloops, Kelowna and Prince George — focus on education, skills training and protecting our environment. James said they differ from the “partisan” and “personal attack” ads run by the B.C. Liberals.
“[What] we’ve seen over the last while is the public is really looking for a debate around the issues that are important to them and their families,” James said. “I expect you’ll see the [poll] numbers tighten up, but I think every time you run a campaign and every time you pick a strategy, there’s a risk to it.
“I’m very proud of our party that the risk we’re taking in this campaign is to run a positive campaign and the public will judge — we’ll know the answer on election day.”
In the ad, Dix criticizes Liberal attack ads and promises “change for the better, one practical step at a time.” James said more detailed NDP policy pronouncements will come closer to the election.
In a Liberal-party-funded ad released last week, Premier Christy Clark touted the B.C. Jobs Plan, which she says has increased trade with China and brought investment in skills training.
Meanwhile, the B.C. Liberal government has said it plans to spend $15 million over this year and last on an advertising campaign for the B.C. Jobs Plan.
Liberal cabinet minister Mary Polak told the Vancouver Sun this month that the campaign is necessary to let people know why the government is making some decisions, especially when it comes to the budget.
Shortly after the NDP ad was announced Sunday, Polak contacted the Sun and said Dix’s initial ad was vague, but more negative than Clark’s.
“I don’t think they have the corner on the word ‘positive,’ ” Polak said, referring the NDP’s Christy Crunch attack ad in 2011. “You can’t predict what you’re going to have to respond to in a campaign, but I think we certainly have lots of reasons to remain positive and to put forward that message. Because we can do it with specifics and so far Adrian Dix can only give us vagueness.”
James pledged that the NDP would refrain from personal attacks. She said “there’s no question” the Liberals are engaging in fearmongering attacks against Dix, pointing to the current ad campaign by former Clark adviser Jim Shepard.
In June 2012, Shepard left his post as a $1-a-year policy adviser to Clark on issues such as job creation and trade to head the political action group Concerned Citizens for British Columbia, which this month announced a privately funded $1-million advertising campaign to help improve the premier’s public image.
A former CEO of Finning and Canfor, Shepard promised in a November letter to supporters obtained by the Sun that the group would provide “blanket coverage of each riding with radio, TV, print, social media, etc.”
In the letter, Shepard said his group had already had raised $520,000 and that it was hoping to collect a total of $1 million.
He went on to suggest that people donate in increments of $10,000 each.
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