Expect slimmed-down federal budget on March 21
After releasing a budget in 2012 that was criticized for doing too much all at once, the federal government will likely deliver a sleeker document in 2013.
Foreign Affairs minister John Baird, in Kamloops for an economic roundtable on Thursday, March 14, dropped a few hints about the next budget, which is due to be announced on Thursday, March 21.
With its last budget, the Tory government drew fire for bundling a large number of legislative changes into one budget implementation act.
Changes in the omnibus bill that stripped smaller rivers and bodies of water of federal protection, for instance, helped spark Idle No More protests this winter.
Baird acknowledged the bill was on the large side.
"I think that there's been a number of budgets which were perhaps more comprehensive than others," he said. "The budget in 2009 was one of them and the budget last year was one of them, building on substantial commitments we made in the election campaign."
Baird said job creation will continue to drive the Conservative's economic agenda in 2013.
"Wherever I go, the East, the West, Central Canada, economic growth is still a priority," he said. "As long as there's one Canadian out of work, that's one too many and we've got to be focused on it."
Finance Minister Jim Flaherty has previously indicated to media that the next budget will focus on eliminating the country's $26-billion deficit, which he has pledged to do by 2015. New spending commitments with big price tags aren't expected.
While Baird was in town to discuss economics, he said his roundtable with Kamloops-Thompson-Cariboo Conservative MP Cathy McLeod and local businesspeople isn't likely to directly impact the upcoming budget, which is mostly finalized.
"If we hear anything that's compelling, we can always get on the phone with Jim Flaherty," he said, noting the meeting was more about setting government priorities over the longer term and looking for ways to "promote Canadian prosperity abroad."
Baird told about a dozen people representing forestry, ranching, tourism and other sectors that the government is pushing its trade commissioners to focus on small and medium-sized enterprises and working to make inroads into Asia that will benefit B.C. businesses.