VANCOUVER - New Democrat Leader Adrian Dix is taking his campaign into Finance Minister Mike de Jong's Abbotsford riding today where he is expected to put up his party's financial plan against that of the Liberals.
The NDP presence in de Jong's riding — not traditional New Democrat territory — comes one day after the New Democrats decided to start the May 14 election campaign Tuesday with a visit to Premier Christy Clark's Vancouver-Point Grey riding.
Both the Liberal and NDP campaign buses will make stops today in the Fraser Valley and there's a chance they may cross paths with the NDP in Abbotsford and the Liberals in nearby Chilliwack.
The Liberals are heading to the Interior, while the NDP will return to Metro Vancouver where, at a lunch-hour campaign event, they will meet up with federal NDP MP Olivia Chow, the wife of late federal NDP leader Jack Layton.
The NDP financial plan, which includes raising corporate income taxes, increasing bank taxes to fund student loans and raising taxes on people earning above $150,000 annually, also includes dropping a Liberal education saving fund that puts $1,200 into special accounts for youngsters. The NDP financial plan, released last week, forecasts raising $300 million through the tax increases and program cuts.
The New Democrats said they would not produce a balanced budget until the final year of a four-year term if elected.
The Liberal finance plan forecasts a surplus budget next year and Clark said the Liberals will work to pay down the province's forecasted $62 billion debt by contributing half of every budget surplus to the debt.
Dix told an NDP rally at a downtown Vancouver hotel ballroom Tuesday he wants the NDP campaign to mirror Layton's political vision of bringing change through positive efforts.
"It's that idea in politics, which is to make it more open, more generous, to bring people in, all the people, in this room and people beyond this room, people who've never seen themselves reflected in the political process," said Dix. "That's this campaign is about."
But Clark's Liberals have said the NDP's "tax-and-spend" platform will simply leave ever-mounting debt for future generations who will have less ability to pay for it because the economy will decline.
Clark rallied supporters Monday night in Burnaby, where about 150 people came to meet her at the National Nikkei Heritage Centre.
"We're here because we share some common values, values that are bedrock in British Columbia," Clark said. "Values that include making sure we leave a province for our kids that is better than the ones we found."
She introduced a slew of Liberal candidates in the area, and appeared to take a subtle swing at Dix over a candidate forced to resign on the first day of the campaign over controversial comments made online about First Nations.
"I am not ashamed for a moment of letting you see our team," she told the crowd.
"I want you to see them. I want you to get to know them, because they will be your representatives in the legislature on May 14, 2013, the ones that are going to build this community."
Kelowna-Mission NDP candidate Dayleen Van Ryswyk was forced to resign Monday just before the campaign officially began after the Liberals issued a news release highlighting the comments.
A television camera filmed Van Ryswyk walking to her car, refusing to comment, while an aide pushed a hand into the camera lens.
Clark will be in Merritt and Kamloops on Tuesday.
A new poll released Monday gave the New Democrats a 17-point lead over the Liberals.
The Angus Reid survey found 45 per cent of decided voters province-wide would cast a ballot for the New Democrats, compared to 28 per cent for the Liberals. The B.C. Greens received 13 per cent of decided votes, and the B.C. Conservatives 12 per cent.
The online survey of 804 adults was conducted April 12 and 13. It has a margin of error of plus or minus 3.5 per cent, 19 times out of 20.
Twenty-eight per cent of those surveyed said the economy was the top issue facing B.C., while 17 per cent identified health care and 16 per cent leadership as the main issue. The environment was top of mind for eight per cent and education, six per cent.