Pre-budget consultations are underway for the federal government’s 2017 budget, but Blake Richards, Conservative MP for Banff-Airdrie, said the Liberals are taking a “completely wrongheaded approach” in what’s being prioritized.
He said Prime Minister Justin Trudeau wants to introduce a federal carbon tax that would cost the average Canadian family more than $2,500 a year.
“(The tax will) increase the cost of heating our homes, increase the cost of driving to and from work and getting our kids to sports activities,” Richards said. “We’ve seen tens of thousands of people lose their jobs and I know many small businesses in our community and elsewhere are struggling just to keep the doors open.
“At this time what I think we should be doing is trying to do things to encourage business (and) improve opportunities for our natural resources industry so people can get back to work. But what we’re seeing instead is increased taxation.”
Richards said the Liberal government has already broken some of its campaign promises, including a tax cut to small businesses. He also said the country’s deficit for this fiscal year is sitting at approximately $30 billion, adding the government has not released details on any sort of plan to eliminate that debt.
“Worst of all, the big promise in all that was supposed to be this idea that we would see infrastructure projects, but most of that’s been deferred until well into the future,” Richards said. “And in many cases, communities the size of ours won’t even qualify because it’s only going to be for major projects (costing) $100 million or more in the major cities.”
Lowering taxes, reducing barriers for small businesses and improving the economy by creating jobs through pipeline projects is what Richards said he believes the government should focus on.
“And then of course getting back to a balanced budget, which is where we left them a year ago,” he said.
The House of Commons Standing Committee on Finance kicked off its pre-budget consultation process in June and Canadians were invited to provide feedback on what they think should be prioritized in the 2017 budget.
The committee plans to present a report on the consultation process in the House of Commons in December.
Richards said he plans to host a local open house in January to give Airdronians an opportunity to provide their feedback, and said the budget will likely be released in February or March.
He also hosted a roundtable discussion at the Ramada Airdrie Hotel and Suites Nov. 8 to discuss the current unemployment rate in Alberta, as part of the Alberta Jobs Taskforce created by the Conservative Caucus in October.
“We’ve seen no action to support those who are out of work or to try and get people back to work in Alberta from our federal government,” Richards said. “And so as the Official Opposition we have said, ‘Well, we’re going to try and make sure we reach out and take the ideas and suggestions that people have to see that situation improve and take those back.’”