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Businesses see varied economic impacts from election
Candidates stay at Explorer, YK Inn, enjoy Chef Pierre croissants

Guy Quenneville
Northern News Services
Published Wednesday, May 4, 2011

SOMBA K'E/YELLOWKNIFE - Politicians come and go so quickly here.

That's the feeling among some businesses that say they profited only modestly from the brisk campaign visits of Michael Ignatieff, Jack Layton and Stephen Harper over the past month.

 NNSL photo/graphic

Pierre LePage grills up burgers at the Liberal Party rally for candidate Michael Ignatieff on April 18. The caterer was one of several businesspeople who profited, to varying degrees, from events held during the federal election. To the left of LePage is Gerry LePrieur. - photo courtesy of Robert Hawkins

Pierre LePage, owner of Chef Pierre's Catering and Le Frolic, said he was sought out by the Liberal committee to elect Joe Handley to cater the City Hall barbecue that heralded the arrival of Ignatieff to Yellowknife on April 18.

LePage, wearing a Liberal bib, prepared several meat trays and served up hamburgers and hotdogs to a crowd of approximately 200 that day.

More recently, he baked fresh croissants and other treats for the early morning breakfast rally for Jack Layton held at Western Arctic MP Dennis Bevington's downtown campaign office.

Each job brought in about $1,000, a sum LePage alternately referred to as "peanuts" and "low-budget."

LePage said he never thought twice about crossing party lines when it came to feeding politicians.

"A job is a job," he said. "I'm very neutral when it comes to politics, and I think, in our business, we have to be."

Not that LePage's empire saw much action during the brief stops made by candidates, he added.

"I know that the Conservatives travel with a party of 70 people, but it's such a tight schedule, probably the hotel where they stay gets the most business. We did not see an increase in restaurant or bar traffic."

Nor was his business asked to cater any election night events, he added.

"Hopefully tonight somebody comes in to celebrate or drink their sorrows," he said Monday afternoon.

Ignatieff stayed at the Explorer Hotel the night before his rally with a party of 35 people, compared to the group of 40 who stayed with Layton at the Explorer last week, the night before his morning breakfast rally.

Ignatieff and his camp pumped approximately $5,775 into the hotel, compared to Layton and company, who footed a bill totalling about $6,660.

"It's not a whole lot, but everything counts," said Douglas Pears, general manager of the hotel.

While the Explorer is usually the prime minister's first choice among Yellowknife hotels, Ignatieff's campaign team managed to book earlier than the Conservatives, which didn't leave enough room for Harper and his comparatively larger following, said Pears.

"We were full," he said.

Harper and a group of 75 aides, campaign workers and travelling journalists ultimately stayed downtown at the Yellowknife Inn, resulting in about $10,000 in bookings, said general manager Derek Carmody.

"It definitely increased the business. It increased the exposure of the hotel. We didn't lose any business or displace anything for it."

Between 20 and 30 residents from other NWT communities also travelled to Yellowknife and stayed at the Explorer just to get a glimpse of their favourite candidate or party leader, said Pears.

"A lot of the smaller towns came in," he said.

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