Dix says Liberals playing a ‘game’ by encouraging Victoria voters to support Greens

The B.C. Liberals are playing a “game” with voters by encouraging Greater Victoria residents to support the Greens instead of New Democrats in close races, says NDP leader Adrian Dix.

Dix campaigned Friday on Vancouver Island, where he chastised the Liberals for taking out a full-page ad in the Times Colonist that praised B.C. Green leader Jane Sterk’s environmental leadership while criticizing him for “flip-flopping” on issues.

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“Today you have Premier [Christy] Clark arguing to support the Green party,” Dix said at a rally in Esquimalt.

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“Why? Because she wants to be premier. … They want to stay in power. They will say anything, they will do anything. What the Liberals are saying is our path to get to power is for you to vote Green. I say the way to change the government, to get a new and better government, is to vote NDP.”

The Liberal ad’s banner headline read: “Who is strong enough to stand up for B.C.?” A picture of B.C. Green party leader Jane Sterk was accompanied by: “Jane Sterk and the Greens have strong, clear views about how to protect our coast.”

The ad then accused Dix of “flip-flopping on the Kinder Morgan pipeline” before outlining Liberal leader Clark’s five conditions for heavy-oil pipeline projects.

The ad, which ran only in Victoria, was viewed as targeting the ridings of Oak Bay-Gordon Head and Saanich North and the Islands, where there are tight three-way races among the NDP, Greens and Liberals.

It’s a clear attempt to split opposition voters between the NDP and Greens, in the hope that the Liberals have enough core supporters left to win the ridings, said veteran political scientist Norman Ruff.

“I’ve never known a political party to put forward an ad in B.C. where part of the ad gives support to the position of another party,” Ruff said. “It’s absolutely astounding.”

The ad was bought by B.C. Liberal party headquarters, and Oak Bay-Gordon Head Liberal incumbent Ida Chong said she didn’t know about it until the newspaper arrived Friday.

“What I believe it is doing is informing voters what their choices are,” Chong said. “It’s about who has got the strongest leadership going forward.”

Oak Bay Green candidate Andrew Weaver joked that if his campaign could afford a full-page newspaper ad, he would probably have written the same thing as the Liberals.

“What it would acknowledge is Ida is certainly not in the lead … she’s not even second in this riding,” he said.

The Liberals won Oak Bay-Gordon Head and Saanich North and the Islands by just a few hundred votes in 2009, and that was without strong Green candidates.

On Friday, the NDP deployed former premier Mike Harcourt to Oak Bay, where he tried to minimize any damage by warning NDPers not to defect to the Greens.

“I ask you to consider your choices carefully,” Harcourt said. “By voting Green in an election where every seat counts, you may be electing another B.C. Liberal government.”

The provincial election is Tuesday. Advance polls are open today from 8 a.m. to 8 p.m.

rshaw@timescolonist.com

 

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