BY SUKH DHALIWAL
Former Liberal MP
“We are proud that the government is on track to achieve a balanced budget in 2015.” – Finance Minister Joe Oliver, January 14
“As the great Yogi Berra once said, ‘I wish I had an answer, because I’m tired of answering the question.” – Finance Minister Joe Oliver, January 15
IT took the federal Finance Minister Joe Oliver only one day to backtrack on his promise to balance the budget. As a result of this flip flop, the federal budget is going to be delivered after the fiscal year end, which leads to economic uncertainty and a loss of global confidence in Canada as a place to do business.
The tumble of oil prices over the past year has happened quickly, and negatively impacted the economy. This is a situation that the Canadian government cannot control.
However, where the government has failed Canadians is in its economic planning.
Since being elected to office 2006, Stephen Harper and the Conservative government have spoken about Canada emerging as an “energy superpower.” The problem with this approach is the way that that the government has put all of its focus on oil and gas.
There is no innovation agenda. The manufacturing sector has been abandoned. Small businesses are largely ignored, and the service producing sector, which employs the largest number of Canadians, is an afterthought.
The federal government has gambled, and is now facing the harsh realities of putting all of our eggs in one basket.
The federal government would be wise to examine the model of BC, which has just been announced as leading the country’s provinces in economic growth this coming year.
How was this accomplished? With one word: diversification.
Unlike Alberta, BC’s economy is propped up by a number of industries, including lumber, real estate, tourism, mining, energy and resources, as well as technology.
Our exports are balanced: 32 per cent come from pulp and paper, 28 per cent in energy products, and nearly 10 per cent in machinery and equipment.
Diversity also applies to BC’s trade partners. In 2001, 70 per cent of BC goods were sold to the United States. In 2014, the US only accounted for 50 per cent of our exports, with China now accounting for 18 per cent and Japan around 10 per cent.
The Liberal party’s economic vision focuses on supporting the middle class. Families here in Surrey earn their living from a range of different industries, and our community will receive direct benefit from a federal government that looks outside of the energy sector for Canada’s future.
I’m a small business owner, and I understand that stability and growth are only achieved by careful planning and a strategy that secures diverse revenue streams.
It is time that the Conservative government starts to be honest with Canadians, and more importantly, expands its vision for our economic success.
Otherwise, economic stability will be completely out of our control, creating uncertainty for every family across Canada.
Sukh Dhaliwal is the Liberal candidate for the Surrey-Newton federal riding.