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'We appreciate the open ear': Conservative MP hears out local business community

Conservative Party of Canada hits the road with 'listening tour' leading up to federal budget
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Kitchener-Conestoga MP Harold Albrecht was at the Millworks Centre as part of the 'conservative listening tour' on Moinday. James Hopkin/SooToday

Kitchener-Conestoga MP Harold Albrecht was in Sault Ste. Marie in order to take the pulse of local business, hosting two roundtable discussions on business and mortgages at the Millworks Centre Monday morning.

The discussions are a part of a broader ‘listening tour,’ where members of the Conservative Party of Canada are spreading out across Canada to hear from local businesses and community leaders leading up to the Feb. 27 federal budget.

“That’s really our motivation to be here today,” said Albrecht. “To hear from small business, those who are actually impacted by some of the measures that are currently in place and what we can possibly do to remove obstacles from small business to help them to continue to survive and hopefully thrive and grow.”

Albrecht, who was first elected to the House Of Commons in 2006, was joined by members of the Sault Ste. Marie Chamber of Commerce, the Canadian Federation of Independent Business, Sault Ste. Marie Economic Development Corporation and the Sault Ste. Marie Downtown Association.

Chamber of commerce CEO Rory Ring says there’s a “fairly significant concern in the business community” leading up to the budget, noting that proposed tax reforms are seen by the business community as increasing the amount of risk associated with doing business in Canada.

“We appreciate the open ear,” said Ring. “Obviously our membership has felt with the current tax position of the federal government that they really haven’t been listening to the business community, and certainly we’re anticipating when the budget comes out at the end of February, there should be some substantial changes to the previous position on tax reform.”

Albrecht says there’s also a growing uncertainty across Canada about proposed talks regarding the North American Free Trade Agreement.

“When you have companies that are facing increased costs here, and they look across the border and they see the tax burden reducing there,” said Albrecht.

“We’re actually having companies being courted by [the] U.S. to set up shop there, and I think that would be a shame, because we have top notch manufacturers, top notch business people here, and we need to to do everything we can to make sure that they stay here for the purpose of creating jobs for Canadians.”