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Adrian Dix vows not to raise the PST

VANCOUVER (NEWS1130) – If BC NDP leader Adrian Dix is elected as the next premier of the province, he’s vowing to leave the PST alone.

Speaking on News1130 prior to a live Twitter Q&A, he was asked flat out if he would promise not to raise the provincial sales tax. “Yes. It will stay as it is,” he says.

“Right now we’ve had a period, four years, which had been dominated economically by this question of sales taxes and so on. The Liberal government said before 2009 it wasn’t going to bring in the HST. They promised that four years ago today actually. They committed to that to the voters of BC. We had a birthday cake for it in our office today,” Dix says.

“Then, they went ahead and it distracted and disturbed the economy. It affected every business in the province who had to adjust to it coming in and adjust to it coming out.”

He says now is the time for stability on sales tax questions. “We’re looking for relative stability over the next little period so people can adjust back to the PST. The damage done by the Liberals and the HST was considerate, we all know that. Not only to our democracy, but to the economy as well.”

Dix identified the economy and jobs as the most important issues of the campaign. “Ever since the premier launched her jobs plan in September 2011, we’ve lost 34, 800 private-sector jobs. I think a lot of young people are seeing a gap between the skills they have and the skills they need for jobs.”

He says the NDP has a plan to close that gap. “By investing in skills training, by increasing the number of apprentices and the completion rates in our apprenticeship programs. If there’s job creation, but there’s a distance between people living here but they’re not able to get those jobs, that’s a significant problem for the economy. You will have a future of people without jobs and jobs without people. That will affect our prosperity in the long run.”

When it comes to transportation in Metro Vancouver, Dix wants to restore the power to accountable officials, which he says was taken away by the Liberals. “Secondly, we have to address some of our short term operating issues by ensuring transit works for people of Metro Vancouver and start to work together on the longer term solutions.”

Dix denies he’s running a negative campaign, which he has said all along he wouldn’t do. He says there’s a difference between the campaign the NDP is running and the campaign the Liberals are running. “They all attack me personally, they all do, they’ve been attacking me personally for 18 months. It’s legitimate to hold a government accountable for a significant economic failure on the HST, that’s what we’re doing. It’s legitimate to say the premier has ‘debt-free’ on the side of her bus and she’s overseen the largest increase in debt in history.”

He says he’s never attacked anyone personally.

(Read more below)

About 300 questions lobbed at Dix during the Twitter hour

Dix had to tackle about 300 questions during our exclusive live Twitter Q & A session. He managed to answer about a couple of dozen.

He answered questions ranging from his wine preferences to what he’d do to reduce mining permit backlogs.

Major themes were funding for school districts and the fate of the carbon tax.

Darren Blakeborough with media studies at the University of the Fraser Valley says Dix and his team knew what they were doing.

“I thought it was fantastic the synergy that emerged. He would give a brief, 140-character answer, and then the official party Twitter would kick in with links to the official party platform,” he explains.

He points out some cynical twitter users wanted to make sure the questions were not planted by party supporters.

“Whenever he would respond to a question, somebody would look at that user’s profile and see who they were and if they could be linked to the NDP. Then they could complain about cronyism.”

But he says like similar online forums, he saw half a dozen trolls, or people whose sole purpose was to try to disrupt the flow, amid the very good questions that emerged.

Post-Twitter chat, Adrian Dix shows us his best radio weather forecast