Voter turnout a major concern for Dix

Young people are engaged, but many aren't interested in casting ballots.

It was in 2011, when B.C. NDP leader Adrian Dix was watching a football game with his parents, that he saw the first B.C. Liberal attack ad on TV about him.

“I think it was too soon and it was a mistake on their part,” said Dix, who was the second in the provincial leadership race to speak at a luncheon series organized by the Greater Langley Chamber of Commerce at Newlands on Monday. Conservative leader John Cummins spoke on Friday and Premier Christy Clark is set to speak on Monday, March 25.

The series is part of an initiative by the Chamber to increase voter turnout in the two Langley ridings by at least five per cent.

“Negative ads turn people off politics. We already have a huge challenge in our democracy today with 71 per cent of British Columbians not turning out to vote,” said Dix.

Less than 30 people turned out to hear Dix and roughly the same number turned out to hear Cummins speak. None of the Langley municipal politicians, except for City Councillor Teri James, were present at either luncheon.

“What purpose does it serve for me to attack Mary Polak?” questioned Dix about negative campaigning. “We are trying to change the tone of politics.”

Dix doesn’t believe that the younger generations are apathetic, just the opposite.

“I think they are very passionate about making this a better world. I think it’s that they don’t believe politics [and politicians] has a role,” he said.

Only 53 per cent of eligible voters participated in the last election. Those are registered voters. There were eligible 1.7 million B.C. residents who didn’t vote.

“It’s a thin turnout for voting  and yet these are the people who are making the big decisions in this province,” Dix said about the provincial government.