It may be just over six months until the federal election, but Conservative candidate Brad Vis is already making the rounds through the Mission-Matsqui-Fraser Canyon riding.
On Thursday, April 4, Vis held a town hall at Agassiz’s Agricultural Hall to hear concerns from residents and share some of his views on things like the federal budget and the proposed riding name change.
“We’re really trying to win this race door-to-door, person-to-person,” Vis said to the eight people at the event, significantly smaller than the 50-plus people who came to his Mission town hall last week. “I want to be someone that you feel is accessible … I want to be someone you can reach and you can share your concerns with.”
Although Vis said the new Conservative vision was to be more positive, the start of his presentation was decidedly critical as he shared his thoughts on the federal budget, released in March of this year.
Vis was in favour of some line items — RRSP Home Buyers’ Plan and the Rental Construction Finance Initiative, for example — but he was against of things like the electric car credit, training benefit and the home buyers’ incentive, saying they wouldn’t impact residents in B.C. or it wasn’t the government’s place to subsidize people who could afford electric cars.
“We’re getting dinged” was his most prevalent statement during discussions on the budget, whether it was in regards to carbon tax, steel tariffs or the unbuilt Transmountain pipeline.
“My general concerned as young father and just as a Canadian is that there is a lot of new spending in this budget,” Vis said. “To what end, and to what purpose?”
Although most of the town hall was spent discussing taxes and the federal budget, the proposed riding name was also a significant talking point.
The change, which would see Mission-Matsqui-Fraser Canyon become Abbotsford-Mission-Fraser Canyon, was requested by current Liberal MP Jati Sidhu as part of a private member’s bill to better represent the riding, he said.
Vis, although not strictly opposed to a new name for the riding, said he felt the change was a vanity project for Sidhu.
“It’s part of the history of the area, and it’s a nice history. It’s a rich history,” he said, adding that he will be sending a letter to the Senate “asking them to refrain from changing the name, so if we do it, it’s done with properly with public input.”
During the town hall, Vis also spoke about the challenges of representing the nearly 22,000-kilometre riding, which stretches from Mission to Agassiz to Lillooet to Cache Creek and Gold Bridge.
“The member of parliament for this riding needs to have effective systems in place and needs to have a staff team that’s able to address all of the concerns of each community,” he said. “I want to … help the communities get some of those (federal) funds out the door and back to taxpayers where it’s needed.”
Although the group at Agassiz’s town hall was small, the discussion after Vis’ presentation lasted nearly an hour.
Some questions were pointed at what Vis would do if he was elected, such as the first policies he would want to repeal (Bill C69, because it gives the environment minister a veto on resource projects; revising, not repealing, the Income Tax Act to make it responsive to small business; and revising the defence procurement process).
Other questions prompted discussion, largely on past Conservative policies, the SNC-Lavalin affair and the future Conservative party platform.