Federal NDP leader Thomas Mulcair brought his “Campaign For Change” to Kelowna Tuesday morning, vowing to support the tourism industry to the tune of an extra $30 million over three years for Destination Canada.
Mulcair, speaking at Summerhill Pyramid Winery, said the money for Destination Canada, formerly known as the Canadian Tourism Association, would go to its Connecting America campaign.
The aim of that campaign is to attract more American tourists to this country.
The funding would both replace and add to the $24 million cut from the tourism body’s budget by the Conservative government.
“In many parts of this country visits from tourists are down, even with our lower dollar,” said Mulcair.
“The wine industry in the Okanagan ads more than $100 million to the Okanagan economy, and creates thousands of direct and indirect jobs.
“These jobs are at wineries themselves, and in all the associated business who benefit when tourists come to visit.”
He said many small businesses across Canada, including the Okanagan, depend on effective tourism marketing for a stable flow of U.S. visitors to local communities, attractions and events for their success.
Mulcair accused Conservative leader Stephen Harper;’s government of putting Canadian tourism jobs at risk by first ignoring the drop in U.S. tourist visits and then slashing millions from Destination Canada’s budget.
Mulcair said his party’s plan to restore and add $6 million to the funding, coupled with the NDP’s plan to cut the small business tax to nine per cent from the current 11 per cent, will help tourism operators expand and create jobs.
He said the NDP would also provide an innovation tax credit that would save eligible innovative manufacturers $40 million per year and stimulate additional investment.
Asked what his party had to do to win a historically Conservative riding like Kelowna-Lake Country, Mulcair pointed to the tourism funding, the small business tax reduction and the innovation tax credit and his party’s candidates as evidence his party is offering change and “a clear path to get away from the errors of the past.”
Mulcair was joined on the brief visit to Summerhill by Kelowna-Lake Country NDP candidate Norah Bowman, Central Okanagan- Similkameen-Nicola candidate Angelique Wood and South Okanagan-West Kootenay candidate Richard Cannings.
After leaving Kelonwa, Mulcair headed to Vernon for the kick-off of a the NDP candidate’s campaign there, then on to Kamloops for a rally Tuesday night.
On Monday night, an estimated 1,000 NDP supporters crammed into rooms at the Penticton Trade and Convention Centre to hear Mulcair speak.
The overflow crowd meant some had to listen from the centre foyer.