STATEMENT FROM ADRIAN DIX REGARDING "OCCUPY WALL STREET"
VANCOUVER - New Democrat leader Adrian Dix issued the following statement regarding “Occupy Wall Street” events in B.C.
“The ‘Occupy Wall Street’ movement represents the belief of many citizens that we live in a world in which the deck is stacked in favour of the few at the expense of the many.
“People see an increasingly polarized world in which the gap between the rich and the poor is growing ever wider and the middle class, traditionally the engine of the economy, is being stretched to the breaking point.
“A recent report by the Conference Board of Canada showed that income inequality is rising faster in Canada than in the United States. In B.C., the top one per cent of income earners received twelve per cent of total income in 2007; only in Alberta did the top one per cent garner a greater share of the pie.
“People see a political agenda that has delivered massive tax cuts to big corporations and the top one per cent of income earners, while the basic public services upon which the other 99 per cent depend, are being gradually withdrawn and reduced.
“People see increasing unfairness and a political culture that seems deaf to their concerns.
“People are feeling left behind and without a voice.
“British Columbia is not immune from this phenomenon.
“The ruling Liberals have spent ten years shifting the tax burden away from corporations and high income earners and onto the middle class and lower income earners.
“As a result, we are experiencing unprecedented inequality, a middle class that is feeling the strain as never before and the shameful record of having the highest rate of child poverty in Canada for eight straight years.
“Citizens here in B.C. and elsewhere have responded in part by abandoning the traditional political process, which we see in part in ever lower turnouts for elections at all levels of government.
“In the recent Ontario election, less than 50 per cent of eligible voters cast a ballot, while in the last B.C. election 1.4 million registered voters and 1.7 million eligible voters – the latter also more than 50 per cent – did not vote.
“This diminishes our democracy, as fewer and fewer people feel it is responsive to their needs and concerns.
“People have also responded by participating in movements such as ‘Occupy Wall Street’ and the events that will occur this weekend in Vancouver, Victoria and Nelson.
“We would be making a grave mistake if we treated these events as anything less than a genuine attempt by citizens to be heard by a political and economic system they feel has abandoned them.
“We need to take those concerns seriously.
“That is why I ran for the leadership of the B.C. New Democrats in part on a commitment to make politics relevant again for those who feel it has abandoned them.
“That is why I have proposed specific measures that will make our tax system fairer and address the real priorities of working families, small business, young people and middle class citizens.
“For example, I will restore the minimum tax on financial institutions to pay for a needs-based student grant program that will help ensure young people can access a post-secondary education. The average student with debt graduates owing $27,000 today, which is simply unacceptable for any society that takes seriously the task of opening up opportunity to its young people.
“I will make significant new investments in training and skills development to offer young people the opportunity to fully reach their potential and to help ensure we avoid an economy that has ‘people without jobs’ and ‘jobs without people.’
“Citizens will come back to the traditional political arena when it offers real solutions to the pressures and anxieties they feel on a daily basis.
“We need to make politics relevant to our citizens again, which in large part means addressing the alarming increase in inequality that disfigures our society.
“Until that happens, we will continue to see movements such as ‘Occupy Wall Street’ that offer a voice to those who feel ignored, excluded and disenfranchised.
“I urge all those who participate in these events to do so in a peaceful manner that recognizes everyone’s right to express their views and to disagree respectfully with others.”