Adrian Dix and the battle worth fighting for
It’s been said that Adrian Dix—NDP Member of Legislative Assembly for Vancouver-Kingsway is up and coming. That may be. But Dix wants to be clear about his intention, to maintain party support, he says, for Carole James as leader of the NDP party.
“I am a strong supporter of Carole James," he said in a recent interview. "In my view, she would make a great Premier. Carole knows how to lead a team. She has led our party from 2 seats and 22 per cent of the vote in 2001 to 42.2 per cent and 35 seats in 2009”.
Dix wants then take us—back to basics—and away from always talking about NDP leadership (believing this conversation to be but a straw man, nothing but a smoke-screen; a way of not dealing with and moving forward with the real issues)—which, he argues, is the subject of equality.
He speaks plainly: we must avoid the temptation to relegate ourselves to that leadership, leadership! redundancy-of-a-conversation. It’s an age-old tactic used to defeat and to divert attention away from the policy issues that we need to be talking about: That the NDP is undergoing a kind of reboot. Now, finally, claiming a mandate for change—starting today—and getting ready for 2013.
Raising the alarm bell, sporadic but important “Take back the Party or “Fight Back” community initiatives have translated into a movement a-foot within the party. As a cohesive whole, Dix says the NDP is in the throes of developing a new platform that has real appeal for the people of BC.
“For me, equality [or the lack there of] is the number one issue facing our province today. It saps our province of our common purpose and leads to poorer health outcomes, more crime and insecurity. Increasing child poverty is a direct negative hit on the future”.
“A comprehensive anti-poverty plan needs to be at the centre of our party platform in the next election," he says. “The cuts to children’s dental programs and services supporting the health of people with disabilities and on income assistance are a particular outrage. In effect, the Liberal government is forcing the poor to pay for increased income assistance utilization caused by the recession”.
“The government is also diverting monies for social assistance provided by the Federal Government under the Canada Social Transfer. This is an unfair and mean-spirited action, more consistent with the 19th Century Poor Laws and needs to be overturned. Our job is to continue to focus on the issue until they do. Could we [the NDP] do better? Absolutely!”
“We have seen a dramatic growth in inequality, a shrinking and diminishing of the working middle class under the current government. Their economic record has been poor and we need to say so and offer alternatives”.
Dix acknowledges that there is there is considerable disaffection with the political process and that people are often turned-off politics. The NDP party is open to “hearing what the people have to say”. Their obstacle is people who, he says, may be more inclined to be “dismissive of political engagement”—that is—unwilling to have genuine debate and grow from that. That, somehow; government officials are simply there to be to be scorned when, in reality, this “out-front cynicism favours the status quo” according to Dix.
So how do you reach the very people who need to be reached? The issue that political action does not have the sense of urgency it once had—is a major conundrum. Hence; Dix says, “we need to do better job engaging people in the discussion. We need an active and engaged party membership…and do a better job engaging that”.
He’s confident that NDPers want the party to win the next election. “They want us to win; there are differences on how to get there”. That the problem is, “We talk past each other in these debates. My message to people is this: To get involved. My message inside the party is for us to value that involvement”.
“This is not to say that it has an easy time to be a social democratic party”.
In terms of the role of the NDP membership in affecting the direction of the official party-line, “We’ve got to take more responsibility to make it meaningful.
“[Members] don’t feel that they have voice. We have to work on that as a party”.
“We need more [activists]”.
On the concern over NDP corporatizing its image, apparently, Dix says it shouldn’t signal to us that it isn’t still the-working-person’s party. “That doesn’t mean we don’t need to change. For example, we need to challenge the BC Liberal record—we need to much more carefully examine their ideas on the economy”.