Les Leyne: Dix lays out NDP's election platform, comes up empty on jobs

NDP leader Adrian Dix put all his cards on the table Wednesday, releasing the last details of his platform and presenting it all in one document.

But there’s one card missing, and it highlights the key difference between the NDP and Liberal campaigns.

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For all their steps toward “working together and achieving our dreams,” the NDP platform is empty of job targets. The NDP are a lot heavier on the reasons to say no to big, dirty, job-creating projects than they are on ideas for putting people to work.

By contrast, Premier Christy Clark’s Liberals are invested to a ludicrous degree in the idea that they can make new jobs happen by the tens of thousands— “100,000 high-paying jobs” are explicitly guaranteed in the Liberal platform, based on a $1-trillion liquefied natural gas opportunity, with its $100 billion in potential government revenue.

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The key platform difference is between a Liberal pipe dream that is 10 years away if everything goes right, versus an NDP emphasis on social issues and the environment that makes only passing reference to resource jobs.

On that key difference, it looks like the NDP has the better hand. Because urban, southwestern B.C. cares a lot more about eco-issues than it does about northern jobs. And urban southwestern B.C. is where the voters are.

The NDP have been cautious about LNG. The platform supports “sustainable” LNG development, but accuses the Liberals of wanting to “gamble our entire economic future on just one promising but still uncertain industry.” They appear suspicious of the basis for most of the LNG potential — underground hydraulic fracturing of gas beds.

They promise an “independent, expert-led public review of fracking and the impact of oil and gas development.”

Also up for study are all pipeline proposals, with the assurance that whatever the reviews discover, the answer will be “No.”

Next to the idea that deficits for at least the next three years under an NDP government would really be Liberal deficits, it’s the most incomprehensible part of the NDP platform.

They’re going to withdraw from the federal deal to review Enbridge Northern Gateway in the first week in office. Then back up and establish a B.C. environmental assessment process to restudy it, and also review the proposed Kinder Morgan line to Metro Vancouver.

Then they’ll reject both, regardless of the findings.

Why not just say no, period, and forget the charades?

The NDP plan will make Ottawa’s aimless, multimillion-dollar listening exercise for pipeline projects look focused and driven by comparison.

Elsewhere on job creation, there are a lot of casual references to economic stability, but not much to back them up.

The NDP says it supports forestry, oil and gas, film, high-tech and tourism (but not the Jumbo resort in southeast B.C.).

There is a promise to cut approval times for mineral exploration permits and mine developments, which could create jobs.

There are things that would benefit slivers of the resource sector. But nowhere is there a specific target for job creation.

The party outlines ideas to enhance forestry, by limiting log exports and expanding the market (like the Liberals did). But taken together with all the other ideas, the NDP plans create a lot more government jobs than private ones.

Clark and Dix picked sides early on the jobs versus the environment issue. Clark backed big industry and pointed out the need to dig holes and cut trees to create wealth from the start. She’d back the oil pipelines in a minute, if she thought she could get away with it.

Dix was conscious of the need to make up for the NDP’s environmental disaster in 2009, over the fiasco of not supporting a carbon tax. He has picked the environment side nearly every time since becoming leader.

It goes over well with the NDP base and it reaches over party lines. That’s why he broadened the stance and nixed the Kinder Morgan pipeline concept this week, as well.

On promising jobs, Clark is winning this campaign 100,000 to 0. Her problem is most voters are using a different measure.

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