Opinion

Albas: Despite criticism, there is plenty of debate about the budget

It was roughly one year ago that I wrote my first report as your newly elected MP for Okanagan-Coquihalla.

Reflecting on the past 12 months, and in particular the immense learning curve I am currently on, it has shown me the deep passion that Canadians collectively share for our great country.

At times we differ in our views and sometimes strongly, but each year on July 1st we come together in celebration to honor what we value most in our country and in ourselves as Canadians.

We may sometimes take it for granted but as a nation we are one of the freest, most prosperous and peaceful countries in the world.

When in Ottawa, I am often mindful of the importance of our decisions and the challenges that we continue to face in working to keep Canada strong and prosperous.

Canada as a country was built on principles of sacrifice and immense hard work. Our vast social programs materialized much later on once Canada had established the wealth to afford the luxuries of a secure social safety net.

However, where Canadians once worked in consensus and agreement to undertake the projects that helped create prosperity and employment, today many of those same types of projects are frequently opposed. Regulations that stand as a barrier are often embraced and special interest groups that seek to curtail and derail new investment and infrastructure are on the rise.

Most Canadians believe in the importance of creating jobs here in Canada and lament out-sourcing yet if we cannot continue to build and to innovate in a productive and efficient manner this is a challenge that will continue to occur.

You may have heard about Budget 2012 and the Budget Implementation Act. This year’s budget is one of the most comprehensive in Canadian history. In fact, some of our critics have suggested it is too comprehensive and would like to see a simpler, more basic budget document put forward.

It is important to recognize that Canada has a relatively diverse and inter-related economy. Threats to one sector can indeed have repercussions in others.

In my discussions with local employers over the past few weeks, even in smaller communities like Logan Lake and Okanagan Falls, there are major private sector employers who depend upon a healthy mining industry and special projects as one example. In turn, transportation and regulation are also important contributing factors to the viability of these local operations.

All of the considerations also create well paying jobs in other related industries.

It is for these reasons that a comprehensive budget strategy is required to ensure that, where possible, our vast regulatory processes can be made more efficient to ensure that we are putting citizens to work instead of joining the unemployment line.

Recently in Ottawa, the Opposition expressed outrage that debate on the budget bill was limited to just seven days.

What was often not mentioned was that time closure supporting seven days of debate was only invoked at second reading. In other words, the entire budget debate is not limited to seven days, it was only one stage that was subject to a seven-day time clause.

It should be pointed out that after second reading is full committee stage review (including an all-party sub committee where MPs with expertise in the environment regulatory processes can fully discuss and scrutinize the bill) followed by a third reading debate before being sent to the Senate where this process would occur once again.

In total, the budget will end up having the longest period of debate of any budget in the past two decades, something that I view as positive given the importance of the budget and the spending of your tax dollars.

That said, it is also imperative to ultimately pass the budget and more so, as many of the budget provisions are essential to moving our Canadian economy forward in a manner that creates jobs here in Canada and supports our local economies.

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