Canada's Conservative Whip Canvasses East Kootenay

John Brassard hoped to learn more about what issues the area faces in an attempt to shape federal conservative policies.

Brassard, the Deputy Opposition Whip and MP for Barrie-Innisfil in Ontario, spent the last couple of days meeting with local stakeholders, including mayors and councils, small businesses, and veterans groups.

"It's a big country as you know, so meeting with small municipalities, getting a sense of what the issues are in those regions, not just here in the Interior of BC, but all over the country is important to us."

Currently around 18 months ahead of the 2019 federal election, Brassard is one of many Conservative Party of Canada members who are going across the country to learn more about what matters most to communities. This, he says, will help to shape the party's platform and priorities in the election and beyond.

He says there are a couple of common areas most communities consider to be top concerns going forward.

"Infrastructure, deficits, the need to invest in infrastructure, it's just a reminder as well that it's not all about big cities and larger, urban centres. That rural municipalities play a key role in Canada's economy and having the type of infrastructure to attract industry, for example, is important."

Brassard says, unsurprisingly, tourism came up a lot during his discussions throughout the Kootenay-Columbia riding - a lot of which, he believes, all goes back to infrastructure and ensuring towns of all types and sizes can accommodate visitors.

With Andrew Scheer becoming the party's new leader last spring, Brassard says the party is looking for a slate of new, fresh, and accomplished people to run in 2019.

Two people have already put their names forward in Kootenay-Columbia - Robert Morrison and Dale Shudra. Brassard expects many more to enter the race over the course of the coming year.

"We're 18 months away from a federal election, so we want to make sure that we're well prepared heading into 2019 and show the contrast in terms of policies, in terms of candidates to the current Liberal government led by Justin Trudeau."

He also heard from locals that they were concerned about the new federal budget, which proposes to add $18.1 billion to the country's deficit and shows no clear path to a balanced budget, while investing heavily into parental leave, conservation, and First Nations issues.

- David Opinko 

Audio: John Brassard, Deputy Opposition Whip, Conservative Party of Canada

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