Touting himself as a longtime area resident with a long list of community ties, Tobiano founder and businessman Mike Grenier, is putting his name forward for the federal Conservative nomination in Kamloops-Thompson-Cariboo.
During an online press conference on Monday (Feb. 22), Grenier cited issues of rural connectivity, airport recovery, development and Indigenous relations.
Grenier, 61, was introduced by former political adversary Steven Puhallo. Grenier and Puhallo both lost to Peter Milobar in the 2016 battle for the Kamloops-North Thompson B.C. Liberal nomination.
Puhallo, who lives in Alberta and previously worked as a staffer with the United Conservative Party, said he is not managing Grenier’s campaign, but moderated the online press conference and spoke on behalf of Grenier for his “strength, energy and perseverance.”
Grenier is a TNRD resident with homes in Tobiano and Sun Peaks. His wife, Doreen Grenier, works in the School of Nursing at Thompson Rivers University. The couple is building a house in Cherry Creek.
Emphasis on his ties to the area differentiates Grenier from the only other person to so far put their name forward for the nomination — Tourism Kamloops CEO Beverley DeSantis, who hails from the Prairies and moved to Kamloops in 2016.
Grenier said he co-founded Golf Kamloops, an advisory committee on air travel and the TNRD Film Commission. He is a member of the BC Agriculture Council and strata chair of the Fireside Lodge at Sun Peaks. He is past member of the Canadian Home Builders’ Association-Central Interior and the Kamloops Chamber of Commerce and was named business person of the year for the Tobiano project.
Grenier was also co-chair of the Secwépemc Cultural Education Society. He has been a member of the Conservative Party of Canada since 2014 and a board member of the local riding association since 2016. Grenier served a term as vice-president and has been active in events, fundraising and election readiness committees.
Grenier criticized the Liberal government’s handling of high-speed internet in rural communities, noting disparity compared to urban households and increased need amidst the COVID-19 pandemic. He said rural residents can’t connect on screen with health-care providers, rural students can’t connect with schools, rural seniors can’t connect with family and rural workers cannot take part in the digital economy.
“With COVID and this lack of connectivity, it’s even more profound,” Grenier said.
He said renewed efforts will need to be made to keep the area relevant in a post-pandemic world, including renewal of Kamloops Airport, where carriers and routes have been cancelled or reduced due to poor passenger numbers resulting from public health orders and recommendations around travel to curb spread of the novel coronavirus.
In addition, Grenier talked about an agreement struck with Indigenous people at Tobiano and touted major projects like Tobiano, Sun Peaks, Trans Mountain and New Gold for the area. He called Tobiano “proof” development can be done in a green way.
Grenier said the Liberal government is caught in a cycle of responding from crisis to crisis. He said he would be ready to turn on a dime, should federal election speculation pivot toward campaign mode.
“We need better leadership from our federal government,” he said.
The Kamloops-Thompson-Cariboo Conservative nomination is up for grabs after MP Cathy McLeod announced on Feb. 4 she will not be seeking a fifth term in Ottawa. A date to select the next candidate has yet to be set.