Pierre Poilievre, Federal Conservative Shadow Finance Minister spoke with the local business community and tourism sector regarding economic challenges faced by Canadians on a visit to the East Kootenay.

On a tour with Kootenay-Columbia MP Rob Morrison, Poilievre said he met with small business owners, and larger industrial companies, such as Teck and Canfor.

“The message was loud and clear: we need to unleash our economy, leave more money in the hands of workers and entrepreneurs, remove the red tape so our projects can get started and built, remove anti-business policies that Ottowa has imposed so our businesses can hire more and pay more in wages,” said Poilievre.

Travel restrictions from provincial and federal health authorities to help slow the spread of COVID-19 have taken a significant tole on the tourism industry, an important sector for many East Kootenay communities.

Poilievre offered some suggestions to help the tourism sector get visitors to spend time in the region.

“Our public health bodies need to find safe ways for tourists to enjoy the natural beauty and historic sites of our land,” explained Poilievre. “We have to take advantage of the fact that more Canadians are going to want to stay home, rather than travel abroad. This Christmas, you’re not going to have as many people down in Mexico and the Caribean because of COVID, so we need to get creative about how we get people to spend that money here.”

Poilievre added that businesses in the region have faced differing outcomes from the pandemic.

“It’s a story in contrasts because you have the guys at Canfor saying it’s great, lumber prices have more than doubled in five months but there will be a home builder who has to buy that same lumber for a higher price,” said Poilievre. “It depends on who you are and what sector you’re in, but the unifying theme among everyone is that they want to get to work.”

On Friday, Morrison will take Poilievre on a trip to the Elk Valley and into Sparwood.