Discussions surrounding local issues and election preparedness were a part of the gathering with BC Conservative MP's in Penticton on Friday and Saturday

Conservative MPs share

Casey Richardson

“No one wants an election, we’re certainly prepared for it in my riding.”

The British Columbia Conservative Caucus gathered in Penticton Friday and Saturday to talk about local issues and election preparedness. Speculation surrounding an upcoming federal election this year had the party discussing that while they’re ready for it, it’s not what they’d like to see happen. 

“People are worried about their kids returning to school, people are worried about how they’re going to transition from CERB,” Dan Albas, MP for the Central Okanagan – Similkameen – Nicola area said. “The focus is not on ourselves it’s on those families… At the end of the day, I would hope that the Prime Minister would be focused on helping people through this pandemic rather than helping his friends or helping his party electorally.” 

“Our focus is not going into an election,” Tracy Gray, MP for the Kelowna – Lake Country area said. “Our focus is helping individuals, helping businesses.” 

“All of them were letting us know what their issues are, what their opportunities are and giving us ideas on recommendations we can make to the government. They were letting us know about their challenges with current government programs, maybe some programs that were working for them, maybe not,” Gray added.  

Much of the discussion was focused around the Canadian Emergency Response Benefit (CERB) payments and whether it’s still working. 

“Although the CERB was a very necessary program, we’re hearing about how there’s challenges with people in the industry to actually get workers,” Cathy McLeod, MP for the Kamloops – Thompson – Cariboo area said.  

“The key issues right now are employment issues, we’ve heard from farmers, business owners that simply can't get people to come to work,” Mel Arnold, MP for the North Okanagan – Shuswap area said. 

“We’re looking at how we can change these programs...How do we incentivise people to work rather than disincentivize people the way this government has through some of their programs,” Arnold said. 

Other issues like vineyard and orchard workers, salmon fisheries, intellectual property and technology companies were brought up. 

The Conservative Party heard from locals, farmers, organizations and the new party leader – Erin O'Toole – on what the focus should be on.

Thoughts on the newly elected leader spoke about his “clear organization, solid principle leadership and unification.” 

“I was delighted, I supported Erin O'Toole in the first leadership race and I supported him again in this leadership race. Certiantly from my perspective he’s a person who’s going to be very thoughtful, pragmatic and very inclusive,” McLeod said.  

“Erin has a lot of private sector experience,” Albas said. “He’s got a large amount of experience to draw on…. He’s a very positive, upbeat person.”

“Erin has a great understanding of BC, some of the unique situations in BC here. We talked about how things are very much different here in the Kootenays versus the Okanagan, versus the greater Vancouver area and Vancouver Island and all the way up into the peace country,” Arnold said. 

The BC Conservative Caucus is set to help them iron out what issues they’re bringing in front of parliament, which is prorogued until Sept. 23. 

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