Local MP Damien Kurek believes that a spring election may very well be in store.
Kurek made a recent stop at a Town council meeting in Stettler to touch base with local officials.
“I take very seriously the need to collaborate with different levels of government – whether that be the Province or the many municipalities that I share jurisdiction with,” he said.
“Their electors are my electors, so it’s great to be on the same page and when possible, to be in the same room to discuss issues of shared concern,” said Kurek, MP for Battle River-Crowfoot.
“I’m appreciative of having strong, municipal partners that we can work together with.”
Kurek said that these days, much of his attention is on the coming federal budget, slated to come down on April 19th.
“That’s kind of top-of-mind, and my intent is to amplify the concerns representative of communities like Stettler – making sure that those are heard on the national scene. One item that was brought up at (the council meeting) was access to the Canada Summer Jobs Program.
“There are a lot of organizations that have applied for those, and Service Canada is working through some of the specifics of what it looks like. It’s massively over-subscribed, and there are going to be a lot of people that don’t receive funding. It’s frustrating that there was a one billion dollar student program offered last year that, because of the WE Scandal and things associated with that, those dollars didn’t get out the door yet,” he said.
“So it’s concerns like that that I am trying to bring forward, and especially for a community like Stettler where there has obviously been a big hit because of the oil and gas sector,” he said, adding that the tourism industry needs the support as well.
As to the approaching budget, Kurek pointed out that this event will mark two years since there has been a federal budget.
“We have not had a budget since the 2019 elections,” he said.
“That speaks to what is a troubling trend in the way this government has managed the national economy. And it’s been perpetuated through the vaccine procurement debacle,” he said. “Conservatives have never suggested that support wasnt’t needed – but what we are saying is where is the value for the dollars that were spent?
Kurek said he is concerned about the finance minister and the Prime Minister not having a need for things like ‘fiscal anchors’ and that there are very loose metrics on measuring success on the dollars that are being spent.
“It creates a level of concern around accountability, on how dollars are being spent, on where they are actually making a difference and what programs are effectively being utilized and which ones aren’t,” he said.
“Certainly, there are a lot of questions that I hope are answered, but however, I’m not holding my breath,” he said, adding that last year saw the largest Canadian expenditures made in the nation’s history.
“What do we have to show for it going into the third wave (of the pandemic?) We are seeing a great level of concern.
Weeks ago, the Conservatives brought forward a motion regarding the need for a plan that purposefully and safely reopens that country that is based on evidence and data, he said.
“We were attacked by pundits on the left consistently for what they said was our daring to talk about reopening and how that’s dangerous. But from our perspective, Canadians need to know what the plan is.
“We aren’t saying that we should be reckless. We talked about a safe, data-driven plan to reopen – it’s about safety, it’s about ensuring that Canadians are put first. But it’s acknowledging that if we don’t have a plan, there is a lack of certainly that is forcing businesses to close.
“Canadians deserve a plan so that they can plan for the future. We are going to continue to do that. It needs to include things like vaccines, and rapid testing. We need to have a plan to allow our tourism industry to move forward and to help bring our country back to a place where we can be operating again.”
Meanwhile, Canadians may very well be heading to the polls this spring as well.
Kurek noted that while the government says one thing, their actions can point in a different direction.
“It’s incredibly frustrating that they appear to be going for an election at all costs, yet it’s simply not the right time. Especially for Ontario, Quebec, B.C. and Alberta which have moved into (various levels) of lockdown,” he said, adding that in the meantime, a number of cabinet ministers are making spending announcements.
“Still, with the recent lockdowns, it’s not quite as likely. We are also saying that now is not the right time for an election, but with the government’s actions…we are ready for one. But we continue to say it would be entirely inappropriate for one especially when you have the (other oppositions parties) saying the same thing.
“So really, the ball is in the Prime Ministers’ court, and I would suggest that it’s time for him to show leadership and do what’s best for our country.”