Conservative hopefuls support back move to balance budget next year
Politics: Potentila nominees hear concerns about the economy
By: Don Patterson
| Posted: Wednesday, Feb 19, 2014 06:00 am
As the race to become the Conservative candidate in the Macleod riding passed the half-way mark, the economy is becoming a common concern heard by the four potential nominees.
As Scott Wagner, Melissa Mathieson, Phil Rowland and John Barlow crisscross the riding, each say the economy is one of the top issues they are hearing from people on the campaign trail.
They also support the Harper government’s moves to balance the budget in 2015, over taking bigger steps in last week’s federal budget to bring Canada back into the black a year earlier.
Barlow said people are guardedly optimistic about the economy.
He said people are interested in seeing more economic development in the riding and he would work to get the federal government to help facilitate it.
“I think people want to see some things out here in terms of attracting new businesses, we have some communities out here that are poised to do some great things and it’s up to me to wave the Macleod flag to say we’re open for business,” said Barlow. “We’ve got opportunities. We have communities that have land, have water, have services and they’re ready to welcome some new opportunities.”
Barlow also said the federal government is on the right track with plans to balance the federal budget in 2015.
“We’re coming out of a global recession, I think it’s prudent not to stretch ourselves too thin now,” he said.
According to last week’s federal budget, the government is on tack to be back in the black next year with an estimated $2.6 billion deficit this year and a projected $6.4 billion surplus next year.
Barlow would like to see the federal government start paying down the national debt once the budget is balanced.
Mathieson said the federal government is doing the right thing by waiting until 2015 to balance the budget. She said it might have been possible to balance the budget this year, but it wouldn’t leave much room if circumstances change.
“Our government has been absolutely responsible, they’ve promised to balance the budget by 2015, they’ve said they’re going to do that and I think it’s a pretty responsible move not to push to balance it this year if that leaves no room for error,” she said.
While there weren’t a lot of “shiny” new initiatives included in the budget, Mathieson said there are some that will benefit Macleod families.
“One of the examples that comes to mind is supporting livestock farmers, with the fact the federal government has stepped up and said we’re going to introduce this new pilot project insurance program to give cattle and hog producers in western Canada insurance against unexpected price declines,” she said.
Wagner is pleased to see the federal government provide funding for youth unemployment programs in the budget.
While it’s not a big issue on the campaign trail, it’s an issue he cares deeply about.
“I’m absolutely passionate about youth, the next generation and unemployment, I was very, very pleased with the announcement,” he said.
“I have a bunch of ideas I’d like to bring forward to even further enhance the youth unemployment situation in the nation.”
Wagner said he’s happy to see the government on track to balance the budget next year.
He said it’s important the government now starts to think about what to do once the budget is balanced.
While Rowland would’ve been happy to see the budget balanced this year, he said the federal government will be able to do it in 2015 without cutting programs or raising taxes
“I wish they would have done it this year, but you have to be realistic,” he said.
He said funding in the budget for apprenticeship programs will be good for small businesses.
In the northern part of the riding, he said people are concerned about balancing the federal budget and not seeing any new taxes.
In the southern parts of the riding, he said he heard from a number of people who are looking to build the local economy.
“I want to make sure that we keep taxes low and keep our economy humming,” he said.