Federal budget draws the usual mixed reaction

Nanaimo-Cowichan MP Jean Crowder called Tuesday
Nanaimo-Cowichan MP Jean Crowder called Tuesday's budget vague and disappointing.
— image credit: Ashley Degraaf/file

It wouldn't be a federal budget without mixed local, provincial and national reaction, and Conservative finance minister Jim Flaherty's offering Tuesday brought more of the same.

Flaherty himself called the budget he delivered "boring.'' It didn't provide tax cuts or any large amounts of additional spending.

"We've done a very cursory run through of it,'' said Nanaimo-Cowichan NDP MP Jean Crowder Tuesday of the 400-plus pages. "Overall, I would say it's a disappointing budget.''

Keeping things vague seems to be the government's forte to Crowder.

"It's tough to see what this budget will mean to people before it hits the road,'' she said.

Crowder indicated she didn't see anything in the budget regarding investments that would lead to good-paying jobs for Canadians, particularly young people.

She cited disaster mitigation — measures that could be taken to eliminate or reduce the impacts and risks of hazards through a proactive approach before an emergency or disaster occurs — as an important local issue, but it didn't appear any funding would kick in till April 1 of next year.

Crowder also expressed concern over rural broadband because "lots of people don't have high-speed access to internet,'' she said.

Crowder failed to see how the budget will make any difference in peoples' lives. Something as simple as an eco-energy retrofit, a program that provides grants to help homeowners make their residences more energy-efficient, did not receive any mention, she pointed out.

"That's a good one we would have welcomed,'' said Crowder. "It creates jobs locally, reduces peoples' hydro and energy bills.''

Reed Elley, former Nanaimo-Cowichan MP and Conservative Constituency Association president, put the budget in some perspective.

"I think most Canadians realize we've come through some hard economic times,'' he said. "The government has done some things they ideologically don't like to do.''

After the economic recession of 2008, the party assumed an uncharacteristic heavy debt load, Elley Indicated.

"They're holding the line on a number of things and I think they have to at this point to get this budget balanced.''

The Canadian Taxpayers' Federation applauded the budget for projecting the first year-over-year spending cut since the Chretien-Martin era.

Elley commended the government for trying to address the disparity in the Canadian and U.S. dollars, but "I wish them luck at it,'' he said.

The manufacturing sector does tend to prosper with the lower Canadian dollar when our goods are more attractive, but there are drawbacks as well. Attempts are always being made to discourage cross-border shopping.

Elley pinpointed job training opportunities as something that's not being utilized to the fullest despite the federal government's efforts.

"I think it's unfortunate they haven't got the cooperation of the provinces in the apprenticeship program,'' he said. "We really do need to see a move on that.

"It's a big need for us, especially in this area.''

In Olympic fashion, the Chartered Professional Accountants of Canada declared the budget earned a silver medal for fiscal restraint to remain on target to achieve a balanced budget by 2015-16.

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