Whistler's MP held court with constituents on the patio at Dusty's Bar & Grill at Creekside on Friday, April 13, answering a wide range of questions.
John Weston was in the middle of a series of drop-in visits at several towns in his West Vancouver – Sunshine Coast – Sea to Sky riding, when he came to the resort for an informal meet and greet. Despite the bluebird day being a distraction for those on the nearby slopes, a steady stream of constituents armed with sunglasses and pint glasses turned up to discuss local and national issues, from investment from China in the corridor to language schools to smart meters.
Having lived in Taiwan for years, Weston could address visiting businessmen from China in their own language.
"I was in the corridor (Friday) meeting with Chinese investors, and it was so interesting and they expect me to be a local politician, and I just asked them, in Chinese, where in China they were from, and their eyes widened," he said.
Talking to another constituent about an American businessman who had difficulty gaining entry to Canada, Weston referred to previous occasions when he'd been able to prevail upon immigration minister Jason Kenney to help.
"We've consistently gotten success out of Minister Kenney and the Department of Immigration. He listens and he gets things when they're in the public interest," Weston, who is on the federal immigration committee, told him.
"For example, when I was first about to get elected, the big issue was permits for foreign nationals when employers needed them. He listened and we got some changes made. If you've got a specific idea of how we can accommodate the concerns, dealing with the security issue on the one hand but also promoting the tourism ministry by bringing investment here, let me know."
The recent federal budget was a subject referred to by more than one voter, Weston said in an interview. The MP said the cuts were not as deep as many had expected, despite a cut to the CBC budget of 10 per cent, cuts to the Department of Defense, federal employees numbers, prison programs, first nations health programs, the cancellation of the Katimavik youth program and more.
"It's the roadmap for the country, and I'm responsive to what we want here in the corridor... The cuts were surprisingly small, people were looking for a 10 to 20 per cent cut but it was only 2.8 per cent. The number of federal employees dropped was 19,700, which was less than they thought. Even the CBC, which was expected to receive a very dramatic cut, was cut by only 10 per cent, so that's manageable. I think it was a very balanced budget, one that maintains the momentum on jobs."
Weston is next due in Whistler in May for a formal town hall meeting with voters.