The B.C. Liberals dipped into a 14-year-old scandal on the final day of advance polls to attack NDP Leader Adrian Dix, demanding that he repay severance paid to him in 1999 after he was fired as chief of staff to then-premier Glen Clark.
“Here they go again,” Mr. Dix responded at a campaign stop in the riding of Coquitlam-Burke Mountain. He said the Liberals are trying to use the events that led to his departure – he had backdated a memo in an attempt to protect Mr. Clark – to make voters forget their own transgressions.
“I’m going to be talking in the next few days about jobs and the economy, about health care and education. I understand they are continuing their eight-month smear campaign. We’ll see what people are interested in.”
Mr. Dix called the Liberal tactics cynical. “Politics is not a game. We have to appeal to the best in people.”
But Finance Minister Mike de Jong, at a campaign stop with Liberal Leader Christy Clark in Abbotsford-South, said the Dix memo continues to resonate with voters.
“A lot of people are troubled by that incident and what it said about his character and decision-making,” said Mr. de Jong.
Mr. Dix maintained he won’t respond to the Liberals’ personal attacks, but he has sharpened his message about the Liberal record.
“Do we want more of the same, more of the same failure on job creation, broken trust, BC Rail, HST,” he said to the predictable cries of “shame” from the crowd.
“Or do we want a better government that says ‘yes’ to jobs and economic development, that says ‘yes’ to better schools and hospitals and help for seniors?”
Mr. Dix was borrowing a line from Ms. Clark’s own stock campaign speech: Her signature rally speech has her party being the party of “yes” and the NDP as the party of “no.”
The NDP leader was campaigning mostly in NDP-held seats on Saturday. After starting out with a double-digit lead in the polls, the gap between the Liberals and the NDP has narrowed and Mr. Dix is expected to run hard until election day. But the past four days of advance polls may prove critical to the outcome – the parties are all pushing hard in this campaign to sew up their support early and turnout in the advance polls could be heading to record highs.