Budget lacks plan for cross-border pricing, rural jobs: opposition

Federal opposition parties are zeroing in on the issue of price disparity between Canada and the United States in their criticism of the government's 2014 budget on Wednesday.

The NDP and Liberals give the budget failing grades

Liberal leader Justin Trudeau speaks to reporters following the tabling of the budget on Parliament Hill in Ottawa on Tuesday, Feb. 11, 2014. (Justin Tang/The Canadian Press)

Federal opposition parties are zeroing in on the issue of price disparities between Canada and the United States in their criticism of Ottawa's 2014 budget.

NDP MP Peter Julian says the Official Opposition is "skeptical" about the government taking action when it comes to consumer-friendly promises outlined in the budget bought down Tuesday.

Julian said the government did not follow through with consumer promises made in last fall's speech from the throne, and that the budget did not outline how the Conservatives would tackle cross-border pricing.

"I'm skeptical about them actually taking action on anything more than words on the budget," he said to reporters following Wednesday morning's caucus meeting. 

Liberal Leader Justin Trudeau expressed similar criticism, and said it was a little ironic that a Conservative government "that does such a good game of talking about free markets" would be interested in this kind of interventionism.

"It's a great example of populism that they're not actually going to act on," Trudeau said to reporters following the Liberal caucus meeting Wednesday afternoon.

"They're stoking up concerns in hopes for electoral reasons rather than to actually grow our economy in responsible ways." 

Grain crisis, rural Canadian jobs

The NDP and the Liberals also pointed out the lack of budget provisions aimed to help rural Canada. 

With regards to the grain backlog in Western Canada, Trudeau said one of the most historical governmental responsibilities is to get resources to market. 

"There is no plan, there is no vision for responding to the very real concerns that Canadian farmers have that they're losing millions of dollars a day," he said.

Julian said the government does not have good record on job creation, including jobs for rural Canadians. He said that even when job programs are announced, they're often not allocated proper funding. 

"I think there's a problem of incoherence right down the line," Julian said. "And there are a whole range of Canadians who are left out, like rural Canadians." 

Julian said there are 1.3 million Canadians who are unemployed, 300,000 more than before the recession.