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Hospital, prison projects would go ahead despite Clark’s fear campaign: Dix

Dr. Susan Tebbutt, right, listens as B.C. NDP Leader Adrian Dix speaks during a campaign stop across the street from Penticton Regional Hospital in Penticton, B.C., on May 3, 2013.

Darryl Dyck/The Canadian Press

A number of long-promised capital spending projects would proceed under an NDP government, despite B.C. Liberal Leader Christy Clark's efforts to convince the public otherwise, says Adrian Dix.

In recent days, Ms. Clark has told crowds an NDP government would freeze a number of projects including hospital upgrades and the construction of a new prison near Oliver. The NDP camp feels, with just 11 day until the election, Ms. Clark is attempting to scare voters out of casting a ballot for the NDP.

At a campaign stop in Penticton this week, Ms. Clark told a crowd an upgrade for the Penticton Regional Hospital – a top priority for the Interior Health Authority – would not happen should the NDP be elected.

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"The NDP's tax, borrow and spend plans mean they're going to have to pay for their $3-billion worth of promises and that means that they're going to cancel the hospital," she said. "Because they're going to cancel all of the new capital projects in B.C. as a way to make sure they can find money to pay for their promises. That's the wrong way to run government and that's not leadership."

Ms. Clark announced in March her government was proceeding with a business case planning for the upgrade.

Mr. Dix addressed the allegation at a campaign stop outside the hospital on Friday.

"Ten years [the Liberals] have been talking about rebuilding and adding to this hospital, bringing it into the 21st century – ten years," Mr. Dix said. "For years, it has been number one on the capital spending priority list of the Interior Health Authority. The premier of British Columbia came here earlier this week and said, after 12 years of Liberal government, that if the Liberals weren't re-elected, the hospital wouldn't be built."

The NDP platform states the party "will not be making capital commitments beyond what is available in the current capital plan," which Ms. Clark has been telling crowds she has to assume means all projects not currently under way will be scrapped. Mr. Dix, however, insists those will go forward. An NDP government would begin the business case for the upgrade as soon as it was elected; the new prison, north of Oliver, would also go ahead, he said.

"I think this reflects an important difference between the Liberals and ourselves in this election," Mr. Dix said. "I think, frankly, more of the same politics is trying to divide people on questions like this; more of the same politics is failing for 12 years and then threatening people that if they don't re-elect you, they won't get their hospital. I think that's wrong."

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Based in Vancouver, Andrea Woo is a general assignment reporter with a focus on multimedia journalism. More

News reporter

Daniel Bitonti is a Vancouver-based reporter with The Globe and Mail. Before joining the bureau, Daniel spent six months on the copy desk in the Globe’s Toronto newsroom after completing a journalism degree at Carleton University. More

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