Premier John Horgan’s recent revelation that he’s considering moving Family Day in British Columbia has drawn the ire of at least one big player in the Okanagan Valley tourism industry.
Michael J. Ballingall, the senior vice president of Big White Ski Resort, says moving the date would have “huge” economic impacts in the province. He also accused the premier of folding to pressure from special interests.
Ballingall’s ire is based primarily in his perception that Horgan would be putting business interest, particularly those tied to out-of-province organizations, ahead of the interests of ordinary British Columbians by changing the province’s February holiday.
British Columbia’s Family Day happens every second Monday in February, compared to similar holidays in most other provinces that happen on the third Monday of February.
“If the premier is standing up for the citizens of British Columbia, as he promised in all of his speeches, if the premier wants what’s best for the average person of British Columbia, he won’t move the date,” Ballingall said.
Ballingall alleges Horgan’s desire to change the date of Family Day is largely the result of lobbying from very specific sections of the province’s population.
“Obviously someone’s putting pressure on him, and when we’ve seen these arguments…it’s normally the financial industry,” he said. “Because Toronto and the stock exchange is open [many in the financial industry] have got to go to work.”
Ballingal says that, aside from a few people who live on the border with Alberta, it’s primarily those specific industries, connected to larger organizations based in Ontario, that are pushing the conversation about changing the province’s Family Day.
“If it’s not good for Ontario, it’s not good for the rest of the country. Well, I’m sorry. British Columbia deserves a holiday when they don’t have to compete with the rest of the world, and it’s working perfectly,” he says.
The news that Horgan is considering moving Family Day comes from an interview with Vancouver’s News 1130.
During that interview he said his government has been hearing from people, “particularly business people,” who say they don’t want to be out sync with the rest of the country.
“I think everyone supports the idea of a day off in February, I certainly do, but why wouldn’t it be in line with other provinces, so that we can have commerce continue so that you can have a family holiday and not miss out because you have to work on the day that everyone else is off?” Horgan asked.
Horgan’s question didn’t sit well with Ballingall, who argues ordinary British Columbians benefit tremendously from the earlier holiday.
Not only does the third Monday in February line up with holidays in most of the rest of Canada, it also lines up with President’s Day in the United States. That means tourists flood to ski hills and resorts on that day, making it one of the most expensive of the year.
Meanwhile, on the second Monday of February, when B.C. celebrates its Family Day, accommodation is much cheaper and easier to find, meaning B.C. families will be more likely to have a decent holiday.
“Why would you move the date to make me spend more money on a holiday, to have to compete with the world? Where is that an advantage to me as a British Columbian?” Ballingall asked.
Whether it’s advantageous or not, Horgan said that, if changes to Family Day do happen, they wouldn’t be for at least a couple of years.
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