Questions around matters such as marijuana legalization, interprovincial trade and the pipeline feud between B.C. and Alberta have created an aura of uncertainty for businesses in this region.
That was a concern brought up by Penticton Chamber of Commerce president Cary Schneiderat on Thursday, during a town hall with MP Richard Cannings.
Schneiderat said businesses expect some economic uncertainty, but he said current matters are causing too much uncertainty locally.
“The current culture seems to be more sabre rattling than diplomacy — more of ‘we don’t know, we’ll wait and see what’s going to happen.’ Businesses cannot operate under that kind of climate.
“As businesses, it’s hard to adjust and to plan, and to hire for next year, next month, when we live under a cloud of uncertainty.”
He implored Cannings to share a message in Ottawa that Penticton businesses are looking for more stability from decision makers.
Cannings said he thinks more stability could come from some sort of electoral reform, such as proportional representation, which would lead to more minority governments.
“Minority governments, people try to paint them as something that would give voice to fringe elements that would block legislation, when in fact I think they would create more cooperation, collaboration between the parties,” he said.
“But I think you’re always going to have uncertainty. When you’re doing big things like legalizing marijuana, what does that mean? People don’t really know, I think the government doesn’t really know in many ways, and they’re figuring things out as they go along.”
Cannings added the issue is two-fold with people wanting to feel like their opinions are heard on decisions. He used pipeline protests in the Lower Mainland as an example where people don’t think they’ve been heard.
“The governments have been trying to move quickly on some of these things, and they move too quickly. And that’s not good when you’re talking about major policy shifts.”
Other provincial and local matters were discussed at the town hall meeting, in what was healthy discussion overall.
Most attendees also wore hockey jerseys as a show of solidarity for those affected by the Humboldt Broncos tragedy last Friday.
“It’s really incomprehensible, all we can do is sort of come together,” Cannings said. “I’m really glad in a way Canada has found something to rally around, but unfortunately such a tragedy for so many people.”
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