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Rustad's message gaining traction with B.C. business leaders

B.C. Conservative Leader gets positive reaction from two prominent business leaders in Victoria
B.C. Conservative Leader John Rustad's recent appearance before the Greater Victoria Chamber of Commerce has earned him praise from two senior business leaders in that community. (Black Press Media file photo)

As Conservative Party of B.C. Leader John Rustad continues to speak to business leaders around the province, he received a thumbs-up from two local business leaders in Greater Victoria following his recent speech there. 

Al Hasham, former chair of the Greater Victoria Chamber of Commerce and long-time owner of prominent logistics and furniture businesses, said Wednesday he liked what he had heard from Rustad.  

"I think that was a lot of positivity," Hasham said. "It would be refreshing to have a change, a change to having a positive government working with the people, working with businesses." 

Hasham's comments come almost two weeks after he was among the audience, who heard B.C. United Leader Kevin Falcon.

"I feel when I look around and I look around the crowd, it's a very different crowd and a very supportive crowd," Hasham said. 

John Wilson, principal of The Wilson's Group of Companies, also praised Rustad's performance.

"I thought he was very good," Wilson said. "His common sense solutions...could be prove to be beneficial to B.C. in the future. I certainly like his answer about getting together with (Falcon) and B.C. United if there is somewhat of a vote split and combined they can take government. I think that's good to hear."

Wilson acknowledged that Falcon had also said that B.C. United would work with the Conservatives, but also admitted a difference in reception between the two speakers.

"In general, John's got a little less political spin on things," Wilson said. "I like Kevin, he is a great speaker and all that. But I think John is just to the point (with) common sense solutions. You may not agree with...all of his ideas, but certainly most of them are common sense." 

Rustad's remarks covered a range of issues and included promises of "aggressive" tax cuts and speeding project permitting to where only a single permit would be necessary for any project. Rustad also promised to improve public safety, a key concern among many business owners, by rolling back decriminalization and safe supply, while investing in addiction treatment.

Rustad's appearance before the chamber also came with a note of skepticism about his party's position on social issues. Rustad was asked what he meant when he called in a recent interview with the Globe and Mail for a review of school textbooks and literature to ensure they are “neutral" and whether that demand amounted to censorship.

He respondedby saying that some school textbooks go beyond teaching fundamentals. For example, language used to teach math is about environmentalism.

"Should we be teach our kids math or should we be teach our kids social and environmental issues associated with that," he said. "That's what I mean by..information that is being used that has a different purpose. It's not just about educating our kids." 

Rustad also lamented the presence of what he considers to be pornographic images in textbooks.

"From my perspective, what we make available to our kids should be about teaching kids how to think and not what to think," Rustad said. 

He later acknowledged that people who disagree with him are free to do so. 

Hasham also acknowledged some concerns about the lack of Conservative party policy details in some areas, but also expressed confidence it would fill those gaps.

"What we know now is that the status quo is not working, we have to make a change," Wilson added. 

Rustad was scheduled to speak at the Vancouver Board of Trade Thursday (June 20) at 4 p.m. some 24 hours after speaking at the Greater Victoria Chamber of Commerce. 

Wolf Depner

About the Author: Wolf Depner

I joined the national team with Black Press Media in 2023 from the Peninsula News Review, where I had reported on Vancouver Island's Saanich Peninsula since 2019.
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