Northern By-election Candidates Weigh In On Budget

Thursday, February 28, 2008 at 15:53



An Aboriginal man running for the Tories in an upcoming by-election is defending this week’s budget.


Rob Clarke, who’s seeking the seat in Desnethe-Missinippi-Churchill River, points out it includes increases to Aboriginal health and education spending.


Clarke is aware of the poor reviews it’s generating from Aboriginal leaders — but calls the budget a “great step forward” for Aboriginal people.


He also says the 10 per cent increase to the northern living allowance is proof the Tories are willing to address northern issues.


The NDP candidate in next month’s by-election says the Tories are once again ignoring the North — and Aboriginal people, in particular.


Brian Morin says there should have been money set aside for northern housing, roads and health care.


Morin also says the Tories’ increase to the northern residents deduction is “not very much” when taking into account the high cost of living in the North.


He says a vote for the NDP in the coming by-election is the best way for northerners to respond to the budget — especially in light of the Liberals’ refusal to vote against it.


The Liberals have been widely criticized for choosing not to bring down the Tory government over this budget — but Liberal by-election candidate Joan Beatty says the NDP did worse when it scuttled the Kelowna Accord by bringing down the Liberal government just over two years ago.


Beatty says the Liberals will force an election when the public has an appetite for one.


Still, she says the $270 million committed to Aboriginal issues is a far cry from the $5.1 billion the Liberals were prepared to deliver with the Kelowna Accord.


Beatty also doesn’t like how the Tories addressed crime prevention in this budget.


She says she’s disappointed they didn’t do more to address the root causes of poverty and crime.