ADRIAN Dix's pledge to repeal B.C.'s balanced budget law is troubling coming from a would-be premier.
Speaking to reporters in Victoria this week, the NDP leader said he would likely scrap the 11-year-old law, which makes it illegal for the province to run a deficit, if elected premier.
The legislation is silly, he argued, since it can simply be changed any time the government wants to go into the red.
Dix has a point: The Liberals have, after all, amended the act repeatedly since 2009 to allow them to spend more than they've brought in.
That doesn't mean the legislation is without value, however.
The Liberals' law is in effect a written vow by the government to spend responsibly. As long as it's in place, those in power are forced to suffer the embarrassment of publicly rewriting that vow every time they fail to balance the books. It's a politically costly process that leaves the government open to attacks from the Opposition, and as such serves as a considerable deterrent to overspending.
By promising to scrap the act, Dix has left voters with the impression he would prefer not to be impeded, even symbolically, in his plans to run the government into the red. Fair or not, this image plays perfectly into his opponents' portrayal of New Democrats as incorrigible spendthrifts. The move is politically naïve in the extreme.
A man who seeks to lead the province should know better.