A roundtable discussion held by Banff-Airdrie Conservative MP Blake Richards drew a small, yet engaged crowd to the Cochrane Toyota meeting room on Jan. 27.
With a pre-budget focus top of mind, the group spoke of the national deficit of $28.5 billion and what Richards has highlighted as a tax increase to the average family of $2,200 by next year.
Richards spoke of investor uncertainty, related to overregulation – that within the first three quarters of 2017, $84 billion worth of investment projects in the oil and gas sector had been abandoned.
Talk turned to Liberal focus areas of the 2018 budget, including progress for the middle class, the economy of tomorrow, lifelong learning and gender equality.
Military funding – or the lack thereof – got some people in the room talking, including Chuck Collins.
Collins, whose son is a military serviceman, said he is tired of the politicizing of issues when the real problem comes down to a serious lack of military funding that is decades old – speaking to a broken and bureaucratized system of equipment procurement.
“It’s a disgrace … it’s been sadly neglected for decades and something needs to be done, ” said Collins, shaking his head in disgust over the continued use of worn-out aircraft, unfulfilled promises of new ships and helicopters and the axing of programs.
Pat Graham, whose grandson is in pilot training with the Royal Canadian Air Force, said she was concerned about the potential safety issues that could arise from the use of antiquated parts and machinery and that the military was not receiving what they need to do their jobs effectively.
Richards criticized the cutbacks under the Liberals to the national defence budget, including the $8.5 billion in cuts to the 2017 budget for equipment procurement.
“When you look at ways to balance a budget, this is not the area to look to, ” said Richards. “We’re seeing $12 million in equipment cuts over the last two years. ”
“It’s well-recognized that our men and women in uniform are some of the best, top-notch in the world – despite the fact that we under-equip them … ”
Learn more at blakerichards.ca.