Ottawa has pushed stimulus along quickly: Flaherty
CTV.ca News Staff
Published Tuesday, September 29, 2009 8:29AM EDT
Last Updated Friday, May 18, 2012 11:55PM EDT
Finance Minister Jim Flaherty defended the government's record on the economy Tuesday, saying Ottawa "has done everything it has to do" to get needed stimulus projects underway over the past few months.
When speaking to CTV's Canada AM, Flaherty said 90 per cent of this year's stimulus cash has been committed, meaning the federal government has signed off on the money that is being used to fix roads, pay for tax cuts and provide support for the auto industry.
As a result, more than 4,000 infrastructure projects are currently underway, he said.
He said the stimulus projects are working and the government will continue to support them over the life of the two-year plan.
"This is a two-year stimulus program, this is our international commitment through the G20," he told Canada AM from Ottawa. "The economy has stabilized, but we haven't seen the kind of growth we certainly want to see. So, we're going to keep at this, we're going to stay the course over the next two years."
But critics claim that the Conservative government is overstating the number of projects that are underway.
Liberal House Leader Ralph Goodale said the government's numbers are "grossly inflated," with the number of stimulus projects that are actually underway being much lower than the stated 90 per cent.
"On the projects that they claim are underway, they said in June it was 80 per cent, now they say it's 90 per cent," he told CTV's Canada AM, also from Ottawa. "But we went and talked to those projects during the months of August and September, and we found that the delivery rate was more like 12 per cent, not 80 per cent or 90 per cent."
Goodale said his party is also deeply concerned about the soaring deficit that Canada is currently facing. He said it's a problem that began "before there was any recession."
The ongoing number of job losses also remain a concern for the Liberals, Goodale said.
Flaherty denied that the Conservative government had favoured ridings held by party members when doling out stimulus money, despite the claims of Gordon Landon, a Toronto-area Conservative candidate who recently suggested his riding was left out of federal funding because it is held by a Liberal MP.
"The infrastructure spending is across the country...the EI spending is across the country where it is needed, where there is higher unemployment," Flaherty said. "These are not politically-directed stimulus moves, these are stimulus moves that apply to people where they need it across the country."
Landon, a 61-year-old who planned to run as a Conservative in the Markham-Unionville riding, is no longer going to be a political candidate for the party.
The finance minister's remarks came the day after Prime Minister Stephen Harper delivered his third update on the economy since the start of the year.
When delivering his update in Saint John, N.B., Harper said that the economy remains the government's "number-one priority" and that a steady hand is needed to guide Canada through to economic recovery.
In response, the Liberals denounced the government's claims about the economy and tabled a non-confidence motion that will likely be voted on in the House of Commons later this week.
With files from The Canadian Press