Cabinet ministers field questions from Parksville chamber members

Questions ranged from HST to fears about a Conservative surge

Members of the Parksville and District Chamber of Commerce didn’t let a clutch of provincial cabinet ministers leave town Monday without answering a few tough questions.

Agriculture minister Don McRae was asked about the cancelation of the Buy B.C. program, which promoted local produce during the 1990s. McRae said Buy BC was a good program for the 1990s but stressed the province can do better.

“The issue isn’t dead,” he said. “The opposition is very married to it, but I think we can do better as we go forward.”

Chong was asked about the municipal auditor general initiative and how she sees this meshing with municipalities who have hired their own municipal auditor. She stressed that while an auditor hired by a municipality may well be able to find efficiencies and savings, the provincial auditor will be entirely independent — of both the municipalities and the province.

Uncertainty sparked by the repeal of the HST was also raised, with Parkwest Construction’s Duane Round, arguing the transition back to the PST has hurt construction jobs across the province. Chong replied that moving back to a two-tax system is complicated and must be done correctly.

“It’s not going to be easy,” she said.