Surrey Board of Trade CEO Anita Huberman wasn't expecting to meet Prime Minister Stephen Harper but she happened to be at the right place at the right time.
Huberman met with Harper last week at a federal budget-economic consultation with local business leaders - as well as Langley MP Mark Warawa and Minister of Canadian Heritage and Official Languages James Moore - to discuss solutions to the business concerns of the area.
"It was such a unique opportunity for the prime minister to speak to a grassroots group of people," said Huberman. "It was just amazing to speak to him informally in that way."
She brought up a variety of the board's concerns, including making Canadian stores more competitive with U.S. retailers, expediting free trade agreements with India and the European Union, and developing affordable childcare across the nation.
"He had heard about many of (the issues) already," said Huberman. "When it came to the childcare policy, he said that he's a father, he understands that a national childcare policy is needed. The federal government is willing to look at the gaps in the current childcare policy."
She added that the SBoT would like to see a reduction of duties for business owners on imported goods from the U.S.
Businesses pay tariffs between 18 and 20 per cent on imports, causing them to up their prices at the consumer level and making them less economically competitive.
"They are seriously looking at it, but he needs to be confident that if import duties are decreased that the business community will also reduce their prices to the benefit of consumers," she said.
Lastly, Huberman said the prime minister was aware of the ongoing issues related to the country's free trade agreements with India and the European Union.
"He's hoping that both India and the European Union [agreements] will be completed this year," she said.