OTTAWA, Ont. — The Canadian government has unveiled its first budget in nearly two years, and border security topped the list of spending priorities.
Nearly $7.7 billion in new security spending was announced yesterday, $1.2 billion of which will go towards improved border crossing security and efficiency. The government stressed that border security measures won’t hinder trade between Canada and the U.S.
A further $2 billion will be devoted toward infrastructure programs such as roads and bridges. Although the nation’s debt won’t be paid down this year or next, the budget predicts the economy will grow by 1.3 per cent in 2001 and up to 3.9 per cent in 2003.
The usual critics were quick to slam the new budget, lead by Opposition leader Stockwell Day, who dubbed the budget: “2001, A Waste Odyssey.” He went on to say “This is one of the worst cases of missed priorities that I’ve ever seen when it comes to federal spending.”
But some business representatives applauded the new budget, including Catherine Swift of the Canadian Federation of Independent Business.
“From a security standpoint and to include a few measures to just get us through the next few months when the economy has slowedI think this document fit the bill,” Swift tells media.
Canadian Trucking Alliance chief executive officer, David Bradley, says the budget doesn’t go far enough toward alleviating border congestion and restoring trade levels. He says the government “tried to calm U.S. concerns about security.”
Bradley goes on to state that “If, at the end of the day, all we accomplish is to make it easier for U.S. imports to get into Canada, that’s not the result I think (Martin) is seeking.”
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