Opinion: Leaders debate - opportunity for a turning point

The Leaders debate in the 1991 election changed British Columbia’s political landscape. As Mike Harcourt and Rita Johnson traded talking points, Gordon Wilson interrupted them and said a line that defined the election and put the B.C. Liberals on the course to forming the official opposition for the first time in more than three decades and led to the demise of a political dynasty. Debates not only changed British Columbia’s political course but also in many other elections such as the Turner versus Mulroney debate in 1984 or the 1960 Nixon versus Kennedy debate.

That is why when Adrian Dix and Christy Clark debate on April 29, the stakes will be high for both party leaders – especially for Dix. If he wants to maintain his lead in the polls, he will have to clearly present his positions on various issues, such as how his government would pay for the new spending he has promised and how an NDP government would balance the budget with increased spending.

When questioned about his spending and position on the Kinder Morgan proposal, Dix has quickly become defensive and delivered non-answers. If he continues to shuck and jive these questions it will reflect badly on him as it will verify the concerns raised by the B.C. Liberals that Dix is hiding something and won’t give us the whole truth. One of the reasons Dix has come across as defensive in recent interviews is because of the fact that over the past two years he has not had to put forth policies or been confronted for his lack of policies and his vague positions on numerous topics.

In elections if you are not running second, you are running scared – and Adrian Dix is beginning to run scared. He cannot afford to have any more bad press coverage over the next two weeks. I expect Dix will sharpen his answers and his attacks on Clark, but the attacks on his Kinder Morgan position will intensify as they present an opportunity for Christy Clark to validate her criticism of Dix, that he lacks a clear plan and would be bad for British Columbia’s natural resource sectors.


Written by a B.C. Liberal contributor to Vancity Buzz.

Image: Jonathan Hayward / CP


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