NDP Missing The Boat – Again – With Hospitality Industry

May 28, 2021

MARK MACDONALD

BRITISH COLUMBIA – With the United States Senate voting unanimously to allow cruise ships bound for Alaska to bypass Victoria and Vancouver, BC’s tourism industry is about to take another hellacious pounding.

The government has mandated that Canada’s ports will remain closed to cruise ships until at least February 28, 2022. The Senate’s motion must get through the House of Representatives and at this stage, is only a temporary measure to resuscitate the Alaskan cruise industry, but still.

Victoria in particular would be hard hit, as cruise ships departing from San Francisco and Seattle stop in the capital as part of their technical stops in a Canadian port enroute to their destination. Ian Robertson, Chief Executive Officer of the Greater Victoria Harbour Authority, is urging the provincial government to at least bend and require technical stops for refueling in BC. That won’t actually help the downtown Victoria businesses that depend on cruise ship tourist traffic in normal years, but it’s a stop.

Robertson estimated last year’s closures would cost the Victoria economy $70 million. And the closures continue.

So, while cruise ships are out and about throughout the world, Canada remains closed – until early next year.

It’s another clear example of how the U.S. will do what is in their country’s best interests first – and proceed regardless of how it may affect other nations. With one-tenth of its population, Canada is, increasingly and glaringly, a rare consideration when Americans make major economic-based decisions.

In this case, however, their autocratic tendencies will help the cruise industry float back towards the top – despite Canadian government closures. Let’s see if the NDP government can twist Ottawa’s arm to toss a life ring to the BC cruise industry – and all of the businesses that benefit from having boat tourists step onshore and spend.

Meanwhile, Dr. Bonnie Henry’s erratic closed/not closed/partial closed dictums to the hospitality industry must have restaurateurs apoplectic. Particularly on Vancouver Island, where, despite extremely low rates of COVID infections, we are still subjected to restrictions that address levels incurred in higher density jurisdictions like downtown Vancouver and the lower mainland.

Opening and closing an establishment is not that simple, and every owner and manager knows that. There’s date-dependent inventory control and purchasing, as well as the difficulty of getting staff to come in for sporadic shifts – where their pre-tip remuneration is less than what they’ve been receiving at home, surviving (or thriving as some believe) on CERB benefits.

No industry can operate without certainty and consistent operational conditions, and while some restaurants will survive the pandemic straightjacket, others undoubtedly will not. There are reports that some sectors of the restaurant industry are actually doing quite well, making decent profit margins due to increased take-out and delivery business. Much of that would be due to having less serving staff on hand. It will be interesting to see what happens to some of these eateries once restrictions are eliminated. Will they go back to being fully-staffed, or continue on with smaller payrolls to make a healthier bottom line. That’s the big question mark.

Government propaganda and messaging is so pervasive that it has paralyzed people, imprisoning them in their own homes. I have yet to see or hear of any roadblocks or RCMP interrogations over vaccinations or masks – but we are told they are around every corner.

Regarding restaurants, I’ve enjoyed some great meals in the past weeks and months. That, despite warnings that restaurants aren’t open for seating, and if you want to enjoy restaurant fare, pick it up or have it delivered.

I won’t say when or where, but I’ve dined out fairly frequently at restaurants of my choosing. Be it on semi-covered tables or well-ventilated dining areas, it has been business as usual – for which I am thankful.

So, are these establishments “breaking the law” or not? That probably depends on which day and which law – but who can keep up?

The NDP’s inconsistency and unpredictability is once again wreaking havoc on the private sector, as they fail to recognize or acknowledge the plight of business owners and their need for stability and a level playing field.

All business asks for is an environment in which they can conduct their affairs. Is that too much to ask?

Mark MacDonald is President of Communication Ink Media & Public Relations Ltd. and can be reached at mark@communicationink.ca

 

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