Progressive Conservatives announce strategy for northern economic development

Opposition leader Brian Pallister promised in Churchill Oct. 13 that a Progressive Conservative government would launch a plan to promote economic development and tourism in Manitoba’s north.

The initiative, known as Yes North, is based on Northern Lights, a two-year consultation process undertaken by the PC caucus, the party said in a news release.

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‘“We have been engaging people in their communities, speaking with industry and entrepreneurs, mayors and chiefs, and listening to hundreds of people who live, work and play in Manitoba’s north,” said Pallister. “We’ve heard of severe social and economic disparity, as well as incredible, unrealized potential for economic and community growth. Yes North will play a vital role in realizing that potential.”

Yes North would use methods similar to those employed by Economic Development Winnipeg to attract new companies, help out entrepreneurs and aid the expansion of existing businesses in the north, which has a 32 per cent unemployment rate, among the country’s highest. Joining partnerships to increase investment in tourism and effectivey market unique opportunities in northern communities would be a key component of Yes North.

“Manitoba is very much behind other provincial governments in tourism investment,” Pallister said. “We believe strategic investment is the key to seize opportunities, and the way to explore that is by working with and listening to stakeholders.”

Thompson MLA Steve Ashton challenged the credibility of the PC party when it comes to investing in Northern Manitoba.

“I find it absolutely amazing that Brian Pallister would bring out a document that even talks about Yes North,” Ashton said at a press briefing in Winnipeg. “When it comes to the north, people know that the Conservatives are only talking about no. It’s no to hydro development. They said they’d shut it down. It’s no to the East Side Road Authority, they said they’d shut it down. They even said no to [University College of the North] and building UCN campuses. Clearly, when it comes to Brian Pallister and the Conservatives it’s not Yes North, it’s no north.”

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