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MP Warkentin laments lack of pipelines in federal budget speech

Grande Prairie – Mackenzie MP Chris Warkentin is disappointed the Trans Mountain pipeline expansion was left out of the federal budget speech. While he wasn’t expecting the project to be a line item, the Conservative member says he feels the current battle with British Columbia should have been addressed.

“We had hoped there would be some indication by the government that this was an important project; that they were going to see this project built; that the prime minister would have a plan to move this project forward.”

Kinder Morgan wants to twin an existing pipeline from near Edmonton to a marine terminal in Burnaby, but the British Columbia government has been fighting its construction. There was no mention of the project or pipelines at all in Finance Minister Bill Morneau’s speech Tuesday.

“Even if they had simply mentioned in the budget that this was an important, nation-building project that would be built,” says Warkentin, “that would have been a strong indicator to those people who are looking to see positive things out of this government on this project.”

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Spending overall is an issue for the local politician, who argues the Liberals haven’t invested in infrastructure they said they would when they decided to run a deficit. He takes issue with the government having no plans to balance the books in the next five years.

“We see a cut to the infrastructure spending in this coming year, and yet we see an out of control spending budget that will see the deficit this year be three times what they promised in the election campaign,” says Warkentin. “I don’t know if there’s ever been a time when the Canadian government has spent so much and Canadian families got so little.”

The 2018 budget includes an $18.1 billion deficit. Its major focus is on getting more women into the workforce with pay equity, along with a “use-it-or-lose-it” parental leave program for men and same-sex couples.

On top of energy talk, what Warkentin also finds missing is a NAFTA contingency plan. While the budget document mentions uncertainty about the trade deal with the U.S. and Mexico, there’s no measures to address the possibility that ongoing negotiations could fail.

“There’s nothing to ensure that if things go sideways in the economy that there’s any kind of safety net for Canadians. Every dollar has been spent and $18 billion more is piled on in additional deficit spending, at a time when the Liberals brag that the economy is doing well.”

Warkentin says the government should have set aside money in preparation, along with balancing the budget. In his speech, Morneau noted 600,000 new jobs have been added to Canada’s economy in the past two years and unemployment rates are at their lowest level in more than 40.

Other highlights of the fiscal plan investments in science, the environment, and reconciliation with Indigenous people. There’s also funding to tackle the opioid crisis and offshore tax havens.

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