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Aid to small business a day late and dollar short: Furstenau

Green Leader Sonia Furstenau campaigns in West Vancouver, says small business needs more help
Sonia Furstenau
'This is a riding that the BC Greens can win' -- Green Party Leader Sonia Furstenau.

Green Party Leader Sonia Furstenau, who has done most of her campaigning on Vancouver Island, made a whistle-stop Tuesday in the West Vancouver-Sea to Sky riding – one she thinks could go Green in the October 24 provincial election.

Meanwhile,New Democrats have been campaigning heavily in Furstenau’s own riding of Cowichan Valley – an indicator they think they can snatch it back from the Greens.

Furstenau was at the Troller Ale House in West Vancouver Tuesday to promote Green candidate Jeremy Valeriote, and spoke about the inadequate support the NDP government has offered the tourism and hospitality sector during the pandemic.

Furstenau said the Troller Ale House was typical of so many small businesses in B.C. – especially in the tourism and hospitality sectors -- that still struggle to recover from pandemic restrictions and which are not getting the government support they need. She said she spoke with the owner, Chris Greenfield, about the impact the pandemic has had.

“Certainly during the early months, it was very devastating,” she said. “He has been able to recover. However, while his expenses have remained the same, his revenue is down 30%.

“Our party’s position is that we would be helping business owners like Chris with their rent – 25% -- to ensure that they do make it through this winter.”

She said the support that the NDP government has offered to business has been basically a dollar short and a day late.

“At first we heard how the support was delayed,” she said. “And now we’ve seen that it leaves many tourism business out, and this is unacceptable.”

Fursteanu’s riding has been swarmed lately by NDP supporters, including federal NDP Leader Jagmeet Singh, who was in Cowichan Valley Tuesday promoting the NDP candidate there.

Furstenau shrugged off suggestions her riding could be in jeopardy, and instead focused on those she thinks the Greens can win – including West Vanvouver-Sea-to-Sky.

“For the NDP to be focusing so much effort and attention in my riding, that’s for them to answer,” she said.

In the last election, Liberal incumbent Jordan Sturdy won West Vancouver-Sea-to-Sky with 43% of the vote. The balance of the vote was almost evenly split between the Green and NDP.

Valeriote, a professional geologist and former Gibson’s town councillor, stands a good chance of winning the riding, Furstenau said.

“This is a riding that the BC Greens can win,” she said. “The numbers are telling us that we are very close in this riding.”

Furstenau said the Greens are committed to making innovation and technology a bigger part of a “clean” economic recovery in B.C.

“The BC Greens will stand up for real and urgent action to help our small businesses, strengthen our health care system – by including mental health under our coverage – fight for an end to fossil fuel subsidies and use that money to advance new opportunities in the clean economy,” Furstenau said.

The Green Party leader responded to recent calls by New Democrats to avoid vote splitting among progressives and vote NDP. Furstenau suggested the NDP government’s support for an LNG industry should not be viewed as progressive, and spoke against provincial subsidies that the oil and gas industry receives.

“The least progressive thing that we could be doing in B.C. right now is handing billions of dollars of subsidies to the oil and gas industry while business owners like Chris in the Ale House wonder if they are going to make it through the winter,” she said.

“The notion that we are taking public money to prop up an industry that isn’t financially viable by itself, that then will turn around and cost us in the short-, the medium- and the long-term in terms of impacts from climate change, it is an astonishingly irresponsible decision.”

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