Prime Minister Stephen Harper chose to head to the Arctic for his summer tour, but Pierre Poilievre, minister for Democratic Reform chose the much warmer climes of the Okanagan.
Poilievre is MP for the Ontario riding of Nepean-Carleton, but during two days visiting the South Okanagan this week, he got a sampling of issues and problems affecting people in another region of the country, spending Tuesday touring the southern parts of the South Okanagan West Kootenay riding and Wednesday to exploring the Penticton area.
“The Prime Minister made it very clear to us that every minister was to spend 10 days on the road visiting with Canadians and I am spending five of them here in B.C.” said Poilievre. “Penticton is a very high priority community.”
Penticton is one of the main population centres of the new SOWK riding, which officially comes into existence with the 2015 federal election. Poilievre was accompanied by conservative candidate Marshall Neufeld during his tour.
“Marshall Neufeld is advocating strongly for the community already within the federal government. He got in contact with me and said there is some things you really need to see,” said Poilievre.
On Tuesday, Poilievre met with representatives of the Okanagan Gleaners, held a roundtable discussion with members of the Oliver Royal Canadian Legion, followed by another discussion with local winery representatives.
“We are learning a lot. We met with the wine industry to talk about the asinine barriers to interprovincial trade that prevent them from reaching other Canadian wine consumers,” said Poilievre. “We are hoping to help solve some of those problems.”
Poilievre also met with Osoyoos Indian Band Chief Clarence Louie Tuesday. Wednesday, he started with Penticton Indian Band Chief Jonathan Kruger, who started the day showing off the Skaha Hills residential development, and pointing out areas where they needed help working through federal bureaucracy.
“We had a great conversation this morning. Pierre definitely knows how to network with Transport Canada to hopefully make things more effective and faster for our intentions,” said Kruger, who added that he considered it an honour when government ministers take the time to update themselves on the band’s progress.
Poilievre also met with Tim Hodgkinson of the Penticton Hospitality Association and visited Lang Vineyards in Naramata.