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Poilievre takes private tour of Coulson Aviation as he continues Island tour

Official Opposition leader takes in Port Alberni aviation firm prior to Friday visit to Comox Valley

Federal Conservative Party leader Pierre Poilievre brought his “common sense” plan to Port Alberni on Thursday, April 4, 2024 for a private event at Coulson Aviation. The stop, which included dozens of employees at the aircraft remanufacturing plant, was one of several Poilievre planned for the staunchly NDP Courtenay-Alberni riding.

The “common sense” plan that Poilievre says is part of his platform will “axe the tax, build the homes, fix the budget and stop the crime.” He repeated the mantra to cheering inside one of the Coulson hangars.

Britt Coulson, CEO and son of owner Wayne Coulson, said being able to buy affordable food, gas and housing are of concern to the company, which employs more than 100 people at its facility at the Alberni Valley Regional Airport.

“The Trudeau government continues to drive costs higher while neglecting essential items that Canadians need, such as health care, schooling, infrastructure and the fire protection in order to protect our lands, which is where we come in,” Britt Coulson said.

Poilievre toured the remanufacturing plant, learning how to rivet and how the company’s new, converted Fireliners are able to better fight fires. He called Coulson Aviation “a symbol of all that is great in Canada.”

He talked about the last eight years operating under the Trudeau government. “Everything costs more,” he said. “Work doesn’t pay, housing costs have doubled. Crime, chaos, drugs and disorder are common in our streets.” He gave examples from people he’s met across Canada: a man who wants to feel safe taking his kids to the community centre, a woman who pays $750 a month to rent “half a bed,” or people in St John’s, Newfoundland and Labrador whose deceased family members are stored in refrigerated containers outside the hospital because they can’t afford a cremation or burial for them.

“Life was not like this before (Prime Minister Justin) Trudeau and the NDP,” Poilievre said. “And it won’t be like this after they’re gone.”

Among numerous other subjects, Poilievre brought up the controversial carbon tax that increased on April 1. “It will hammer rural communities and it won’t help the environment,” he said before repeating his “axe the tax” line. He talked about approving liquefied natural gas (LNG) plants, speeding up mining approval processes and removing “the unnecessary and impractical regulations that hurt our forestry sector, so we can bring home and harvest more of the logs here in this country.”

He said the Conservatives’ platform includes capping federal spending and bringing in a “dollar-for-dollar” law to balance the budget.

Poilievre said it’s time for Canada to spend money on fighting wildfires and help make companies like Coulson Aviation feel comfortable doing business at home. Coulson has a presence in the United States, Australia and even Chile, however their state-of-the-art aircraft are rarely seen fighting wildfires in Canada. “The Liberals and the NDP have driven companies like this out of our country to other jurisdictions because of (their) policies,” Poilievre said. “It’s much easier for Coulson to fight fires in places like the U.S., Australia and Chile. We need to change those policies to allow for better firefighting” and use technology grown at home.

Coulson Aviation employee Wade Cook was happy to get the opportunity to hear Poilievre speak at the event. A card-carrying Conservative Party member who has worked with Coulson in different capacities since 1999, Cook praised Poilievre’s leadership.

“He embodies everything we need in government right now,” Cook said afterward. “Accountability, fiscally smart, believes in what’s right for the people. That’s what we need in our country right now. It seems like the far left is running away with…credibility has gone out the window.

“He is our future.”

While the hangar was filled with dozens of supporters like Cook, the Courtenay-Alberni riding hasn’t had a Conservative MP since James Lunney did not run for re-election in 2015. Current MP Gord Johns, a New Democratic Party member, is in his third term serving the riding that includes Port Alberni. While he is popular with his constituents, Poilievre took aim at the way Johns and his party have voted on issues like the carbon tax, housing and crime, saying the NDP “has betrayed the communities of Vancouver Island to work to give their vote to Justin Trudeau.”

Poilievre said attracting a Conservative MP to a winning seat in the riding is all about “common sense. We’re going to axe the tax, build the homes, fix the budget and stop the crime.”

Poilievre travelled to Campbell River for another private event and was due to speak in Courtenay on Friday morning.

READ ALSO: Conservative leader Poilievre rallies Nanaimo crowd against carbon tax

READ ALSO: Police called after protesters, Courtenay-Alberni MP clash over carbon tax

Susie Quinn

About the Author: Susie Quinn

A journalist since 1987, I have been the Alberni Valley News editor since August 2006.
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