Mr. Speaker, I rise to congratulate the 4,000 people of Okanagan—Coquihalla who signed a petition demonstrating their concern over the future of the Penticton airport. Their voice was key to averting an economic disaster in the south Okanagan.
This week the Minister of Transport announced that the Penticton regional airport will remain open under the management of the Department of Transport. This is not a long term commitment.
The federal Liberals bungled the transfer of the airport to the city of Penticton from the beginning. They appointed a negotiator unacceptable to all parties, which forced the collapse of an agreement in principle. The Liberals made a delicate Indian lands claim the responsibility of a municipal government to negotiate, clearly a federal responsibility. At the last minute they changed safety regulations that would have added $450,000 per year to the operating costs of the airport.
The people of Okanagan—Coquihalla came to negotiate the transfer of the airport in good faith. The next time they expect the federal Liberals to do the same.