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BC Election 2013: As campaign heats up, NDP shows its cards

Change is likely coming to the BC electoral scene in May, but massive debt accrued under the Liberals will make the transition slow and cautious, one small NDP step at a time.

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And then there are the optimistic proposals to build liquefied natural gas (LNG) plants in northern and mid-coast BC to feed Asia’s seemingly insatiable demand for increased energy supplies. The NDP believes LNG, which is much less risky to the environment from spills on land and in the ocean than oil, could become a very lucrative future industry for the province as long as it is developed responsibly with proper oversight.

The NDP has also strongly expressed its desire to see an end to governments using taxpayers’ money to fund partisan political ads. “The BC Liberals should end the outrageous waste of at least $16.6 million in jobs, plan advertising and join New Democrats in passing the Government Advertising Act now,” Dix has said.

In addition, the NDP has vowed that students across the province will again experience Science World in their local communities with the restoration of the BC Program for Awareness and Learning of Science, which had an annual budget of about $1 million.

Already announced is the NDP intention to extend to all Woodlands School survivors the opportunity to apply for redress by lifting “the August 1, 1974 cut off date that excludes hundreds of Woodlands survivors from being able to apply for damages.”

Turning to the often-bitter public education file, the NDP says it would do away with the controversial foundation skills assessment (FSA) tests and replace them with new more sophisticated assessment tools.

Dix has also said that local purchasing in the agricultural and food-processing sector needs to be encouraged in order to support farmers and orchardists.

Post secondary students can also expect some relief from NDP promises, especially with the statement that needs-based student grants should be reinstated. The party says the non-repayable grant program could be financed through reinstating a minimum tax on financial institutions.

Noting that a report by TD Economics on income inequality states that BC continues to have the highest level of income inequality in Canada, the NDP says it “would strengthen the economy and grow the middle-class by investing in skills training and education and implementing a poverty reduction plan.”

While not providing many details, the party says it would raise the corporate tax rate, make improvements to transportation, implement green initiatives with revenues from the carbon tax, and maintain the small business tax at its current rate. It also says it wants to expand child care in the province. It is worth noting that the NDP has not said how it would respond to pent up demand from public sector workers for what they say are long overdue salary increases.

Health, education and social services eat up most government spending

Following how Victoria spends provincial taxpayers’ money is another way of determining where the NDP would put special emphasis if it were to become the governing party. After all, an election promise, if it becomes reality, has to be paid somehow.

According to the government’s Budget and Fiscal Plan: 2012/13 — 2014/15, which was released almost a year ago, government is expected to spend $43.9 billion on various services in 2012-13.

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