THUNDER BAY – The Conservative budget hides billions in wasteful spending and offers next to nothing for Northwestern Ontario families and communities.
A true budget should provide a real, forward looking plan but this document is short on details and out-of-touch with the priorities of Northwestern Ontario families. This budget is political in the extreme. It is full of candies – and sound bites – but there is no substance to it. Our country and our region are going through an enormous transition yet this budget contains no discussion or even recognition that we need to prepare for the issues of the future.
Our regional economic development issues are not addressed in this budget. The substantive changes to FedNor that I had hoped to see are absent. On the economic front there is nothing strategic in the budget. Creating and supporting job creation is essential for our communities but you will find nothing about that in this document. Addressing the complex and serious issues facing our First Nations and aboriginal people is important, but again, you will find very little in the budget beyond window dressing. Everyone in Northwestern Ontario knows that the Ring of Fire is one of the most significant and strategic economic opportunities in the country, yet it is not mentioned in this budget.
The government is proposing to spend 1,000 times more on fighter jets than post-secondary students, 1,000 times more on prisons than on crime prevention, youth crime and victims of crime. This is the government that spent more for a single day of the G20 summit than it proposes in new spending in a year for seniors, three times more on partisan advertising than on family care, and it provides nothing new for child care. When Stephen Harper talks of “Staying the course” I believe that his course is exactly what we do NOT need.
The budget does propose 4 million dollars for a cyclotron in Thunder Bay. This is the kind of investment that I support and it reflects the kind of investment that Liberals believe needs to be made in our economy. Projects like this fit easily into the strategic approach to economic development that we should see from FedNor and from Industry Canada. Unfortunately there is nothing in the budget that hints of any larger strategy to commercialize the research being undertaken here.
Any judgment on a budget is also judgment on the government delivering it. This Government demonstrates an arrogance that is unprecedented. It faces being found in contempt of parliament – a first in Canadian history. The conservative inner circle faces RCMP investigations for influence peddling and charges of breaking election laws. After watching all that has gone on in the last few years, the only conclusion that I can reach is that Stephen Harper has no respect for our democracy and our democratic institutions. We need to bring honesty and respect back to Ottawa. A real budget, with our interests at heart, would have been a good place to start.
Candidate – Liberal Party of Canada
Thunder Bay Superior North