Opposition leader Adrian Dix sees the Parksville-Qualicum riding as a crucial one for the 2013 provincial election.
For that reason, he said in an exclusive interview Monday, he plans to come back to the riding numerous times before the writ is dropped.
“I’m going to be there often,” he said. “You are going to tire of me.”
Dix was in Qualicum Beach on Saturday to take part in a NDP policy meeting and to support local candidate Barry Avis.
Dix, who toured the Qualicum Beach Farmers’ Market with Mayor Teunis Westbroek and Avis prior to the meeting, said he heard there is a very real need for skills training for young people in the province.
“We are seeing a real disconnect between what the government says about skills training — that 80 per cent of the jobs are going to require post-secondary education — and the level of access to it,” Dix said. “Education is more important than ever for our economic success and we need to address those questions.”
Not only access to post-secondary education, but secondary education itself came under scrutiny at the meeting.
“We need to work together to improve K-12 education as well,” Dix said. “People are tired of the confrontation that ha taken place over the last year.”
Seniors issues also came to the fore at the meeting, with Dix stressing the need to provide adequate home support in order to help seniors stay in their homes for as long as possible.
“All of us want to do that,” he said. “I can’t think of anybody who wants to move into a facility before they have to. One of the problems with is the very programs that help people stay healthy are the first ones cut like home support. This drives up health care costs for other parts of the system.”
Dix said health care was also high on the agenda, with discussion centering on the new health care centre for Oceanside.
“That was one of the issues I talked about with the mayor at the farmer’s market,” he said. “I’m going to come back and meet with people and keep the discussion going to make sure we meet our local needs.”
Although he stressed that this riding could be an important one, Dix emphasized that there are no safe Liberal ridings in the province.
“I’ve been up to Kelowna more than 20 times in 18 months and that’s a traditionally Liberal-supporting area,” he said. “In Parksville-Qualicum people seem to really want change and we have nominated a terrific candidate. If we present a positive message that responds to people and we run a respectful campaign, we could do well there.”