OTTAWA – Finance Minister Bill Morneau must deliver on his promise of broad and open consultations in preparation of the federal budget, said Official Opposition Finance Critic Lisa Raitt today. “Comments by both the Finance Minister and Wayne Easter paint a clear picture that the Liberals plan on introducing their first budget without formal hearings from the finance committee,” said Ms. Raitt. “The opportunity this committee provides to allow the government to hear from Canadians is an essential part of this process. Skipping this step before tabling a budget is very irresponsible.” Raitt was responding to Mr. Morneau’s comments that he was not sure whether the finance committee will be struck in time to get insight from Canadians. Those comments were echoed by Mr. Easter, who said pre-budget hearings were doubtful. “This Liberal attitude of arrogance is in direct contrast to a style of open, honest and transparent government they promised Canadians just a few short months ago,” said Raitt. “It raises questions about how genuine any of these so-called consultations are in the first place.” Raitt spoke of the importance of consultation when she spoke with Morneau last week by phone. She also took the opportunity to caution against reckless spending and remind the Minister of the Liberal Party’s commitment to a $10 billion cap. “During our time in government, we cut taxes more than one hundred times, and created more than one million net new jobs and I don’t believe there are any Canadians who want to see those accomplishments undone,” said Raitt. “If the Liberals intend to spend more heavily, their spending needs to be targeted and thoughtful in order to achieve results – and meaningful Finance Committee consultation is critical to making sure spending doesn’t just drive us deeper into debt.” Raitt cited the late Jim Flaherty’s view that any successful Finance Minister has to be prepared at some level to put ideology aside in the pursuit of preserving jobs and the economy. It was this approach that gained Canada a reputation as a global, economically sound leader, Raitt said. “If the country is facing a prolonged period of low growth and low oil prices, we need a plan to create jobs in the short term and ensure long term prosperity,” Raitt said. “If the Liberals are not serious about consulting with Canadians, we will.” Next week, Raitt will join Official Opposition Leader Rona Ambrose across Canada as they continue consultations with business leaders, industry and everyday Canadians on how we can create a balanced plan to keep taxes low, create jobs and protect our economy.