The biggest bone of contention on that front is the NDP’s opposition to the controversial Northern Gateway proposal for a new pipeline to bring Alberta oil to the coast. However, the party has left the door open to the idea of tripling the output of the existing line. So there are grounds for a compromise – if Prime Minister Stephen Harper is willing to negotiate.
Method to his madness
Before heading into the woods outside Kamloops to discuss forestry, Mr. Dix takes a moment at the airport to change out of his suit and tie. It is also a good time to inject his insulin.
Although quite guarded about his private life – “There should be boundaries. My brother didn’t run for office” – he will discuss the fact that he was diagnosed with Type 1 diabetes in his 20s (while preparing to run a marathon), and finds it a challenge at times to keep his blood sugar levels steady.
But why, if he has so little to say, has he flown all this way?
Because he thinks ahead. Kamloops is home to two key swing ridings, and when the campaign begins, the party will roll out a policy on investing in the province’s forest inventory.
It’s a move indicative of what distinguishes him as a leader from someone like Mr. Clark.
He and his former boss remain friends, despite that skeleton in their closet, but “we are very different” as politicians, he says. Although “instinctually brilliant” at the art of politics, Mr. Clark displayed an “urgency” to get things done, whereas “I am way more methodical. ... My approach is deliberately more long-term.”
There is no escaping the fact that, if the party does return to power, such a measured pace will be hard on those hot to unravel what the Liberals have done, says Vancouver city councillor Geoff Meggs, a friend since he worked with Mr. Dix for Glen Clark.
“He is passionate about the issue of inequality, but he will go slower on that issue than everyone would like to. For New Democrats, it is what gets them up in the morning.”
Yet Mr. Dix remains adamant – he saw what speed can do during his previous experience in government.
“What I learned,” he says, “was that the public has a limited capacity to absorb change.”
Justine Hunter is The Globe and Mail’s correspondent in the B.C. legislature, and has covered politics in the province since 1988.