B.C. Liberals are seizing on a fundraising appeal to the business community to question Adrian Dix’s leadership skills.
In a co-ordinated political attack, both B.C. Liberal Leader Christy Clark and Finance Minister Mike de Jong called on the NDP leader to fire the party’s provincial secretary over the appeal, which reached out to previous business donors to the Liberals.
The letter, bearing the signature of provincial secretary Jan O’Brien, expresses hopes for a donation in the range of $5,000 to the NDP “to show your commitment to a balanced approach to government.”
Ms. Clark hammered the NDP over the letter in several scrums while attending the Vaisakhi parade in Surrey.
“We haven’t even finished up the election and (the NDP are) drawing up an enemies list,” Ms. Clark told reporters on Saturday.
Ms. Clark says the tone of the letter suggests people should feel they have to give just in case the NDP gets into government.
She said she was backing a suggestion in a statement from Mr. de Jong that Mr. Dix should fire Ms. O’Brien.
“He’s got to take some action and that could be part of it,” said Ms. Clark.
Mr. de Jong was more blunt.
“This is nothing more than a low-down shakedown,” he said in a statement in which he also uses the “enemies list” comparison.
“This is a pressure tactic by the NDP to virtually blackmail businesses across B.C. into donating to their party.”
But Mr. Dix pushed back against the Liberals, denouncing their interpretation of the fundraising appeal.
He defended the fundraising letter, saying there was no intent to raise money through intimidation. “Certainly the parties fundraise in the business community,” he said.
Responding to demands from the B.C. Liberals that he fire Ms. O’Brien, Mr. Dix said: “If their criticism is that party officials are fundraising, then there wouldn’t be anyone left in the Liberal party,” he said. “We’re certainly not demanding anything. We’ve been seeking contributions, as you know, to support the campaign.”
He re-stated his commitment to eliminating corporate and union donations for the 2017 election. “Let’s take this whole issue out of politics.”
At a campaign stop in his Vancouver-Kingsway riding, Mr. Dix said any recipient who was concerned about the tone of the letter should contact him.
Ms. Clark’s key campaign effort Saturday was her tour of the Vaisakhi celebration in which she walked the parade route, posing for pictures with members of the public, and delivering at least three brief speeches on stages in which she touted B.C. Liberal candidates for Surrey, a key battleground region of the province.
Despite the speeches, Ms. Clark insisted she was at Vaisakhi to participate in the South-Asian community celebration and not seek votes.
“People here today are not talking politics,” she said. “They’re talking about all the things we share and the values we share in common.
Ms. Clark said she was attending to show her respect for the South-Asian community. “Even when I wasn’t in politics, I’d come to Vaisakhi, I’d bring my son just because it’s such a great celebration of the values we share.”
Ms. Clark said there had been no reference, during her day at the festival, to the scandal over an outreach to ethnic communities that meshed government and party resources and prompted several resignations including Ms. Clark’s deputy chief of staff Kim Haakstad.
Mr. Dix was also at the celebration in Surrey with federal NDP Leader Thomas Mulcair. At one ironic moment, the two provincial leaders, surrounded by their entourages, passed each other on the main route.
However, they did not stop to make contact, rather sweeping by each other. Earlier this week in the Vancouver Island community of Courtenay, Mr. Dix made a point of going up to chat with Education Minister Don McRae when an indignant Mr. McRae showed up at an NDP campaign event in his riding to raise concern about the opposition party’s education policies.
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