Goldsmith-Jones preps for MP training in Ottawa 

Local stakeholders react to change in government

click to enlarge PHOTO BY BRADEN DUPUIS - ONE STEP AT A TIME New MP Pam Goldsmith-Jones has a lot on her plate already, starting with MP training in Ottawa.
  • Photo by Braden Dupuis
  • ONE STEP AT A TIME New MP Pam Goldsmith-Jones has a lot on her plate already, starting with MP training in Ottawa.

Since being elected on October 19, Pam Goldsmith-Jones has spent most of her time thanking the people who made her campaign a success.

And until she's officially sworn in as a member of Parliament, there's not much more she can do.

"But we will move very quickly after that. We should be able to put things in place in December," Goldsmith-Jones said.

There's a lot on her plate already, but the first order of business is new-MP training in Ottawa starting Nov. 2.

"(It's) basically three days of learning everything, from parliamentary procedure to financial reporting," Goldsmith-Jones said. "And it will be great, because we all go together, all the new MPs from every party."

And there's a lot of them — a total of 199 rookie MPs were elected to the House of Commons.

The new government means a change of pace for everyone, and stakeholders in the Sea to Sky region are already starting to adjust.

TOURISM

It's probably too early to say what the change of government means for Whistler in the long run, but the resort's main marketing engine will likely run smoothly regardless.

"Tourism Whistler works closely with all governments," said Tourism Whistler CEO Barrett Fisher.

"We worked closely with the Conservative government and we're looking forward to working closely with the Liberal government, ensuring that the tourism agenda is a priority."

And that agenda will be guided largely by last year's Deloitte report, Tourism in Canada — Seizing Economic Advantage, "which Pamela Goldsmith-Jones is familiar with," Fisher said.

"It does provide an excellent framework and guidance for where we need to go as a nation, and how we need to grow our tourism profile."

The three key areas highlighted in the report are the importance of streamlining visas, offering competitive air access and improving funding for the Canadian Tourism Commission, Fisher said.

The Liberals have not yet committed a dollar amount to tourism funding, though the party has pledged to invest in infrastructure that would ultimately support the industry.

In September, prime minister-designate Justin Trudeau said a Liberal government would remove visa requirements for Mexican travellers — a promise Fisher said she hopes the new government keeps.

LABOUR

One of Goldsmith-Jones' campaign promises was to form a "local labour task force" within 60 days of being elected to address labour shortages in the riding.

For Marlene Scott-Coleman, general manager of the Whistler Vacation Club, the relief can't come soon enough.

Just before the election, Scott-Coleman had two Labour Market Impact Assessment requests denied on the basis that the government's unemployment data for the region is six per cent.

"I was furious," Scott-Coleman said. "Because I can tell you that through the summer I personally have been housekeeping (and) I have pulled staff out of my Surrey office to come up here."

Like many other local business owners, Scott-Coleman has exhausted her options. She's spent thousands of dollars advertising her housekeeping positions to no avail, and she's worried about the cumulative effect the labour shortage is having on the resort.

"All you need is enough online reviews to say that Whistler is undervalued and overpriced and we will be dead in the weeds," she said.

"Then are we going to spend extra dollars to try and get that traveller back? They won't come back."

Whistler needs accurate labour market data instead of being lumped in with Vancouver, Scott-Coleman said.

"We want to see Whistler become its own region," she said. "This is a different animal altogether. It should not be treated the same."

Aside from the labour task force, Goldsmith-Jones also said while campaigning that she would fight for a Whistler exemption to TFWP rule changes.

FIRST NATIONS

For Chief Ian Campbell of the Squamish Nation, the election of a new government is a welcome change.

"We have a good relationship with Pam. We've known her for many years, when she was the mayor of West Vancouver, and we certainly commend her leadership," Campbell said.

"As we proceed with some of our aspirations around marine-use planning and sustainability of development in our territories, we're hoping that Pam will be able to step in and assist with those processes."

The Liberals have promised a lot to Canada's First Nations — including more funding for education, an inquiry into missing and murdered indigenous women and an all-around improved quality of life.

It remains to be seen if all the promises will be kept, but Campbell said he thinks the Liberals' collaborative approach is an important first step.

"That's something we didn't see from the past government," he said.

"I'm just happy that this is an opportunity for Canadians to mature as a society and really look at reconciliation as carrying tremendous value for our collective future."

FISHERIES

Dave Brown of the Sea to Sky Fisheries Roundtable is hoping for a fresh start under Canada's new government.

"Initially there were some great initiatives put forward by John Weston, but it seemed that once the majority government came we were just seeing consultation used for self promotion, and no real direct immediate action to address any concerns or to achieve any positives for fish and fish habitat," Brown said.

With the Liberals now at the helm, Brown said he'd like to see them adopt the recommendations of the Cohen Commission — the 2012 report into the state of B.C.'s sockeye salmon that the Conservative government largely ignored.

"Locally, on the Birkenhead River the stocks are in extremely low numbers," he said.

Last year's estimates for total escapement was 35,000, "which sounds like a lot of fish, but if you go back a few years ago we were talking 300,000 sockeye coming back," Brown said.

"Adopting the Cohen inquiry would be positive for sockeye salmon, but it would also be positive for all salmon."

Brown said he's also looking forward to a government review of laws protecting fish habitats.

"I'm really excited," he said. "I like what I've heard so far, but now it really starts with action."

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