POLITICS

Federal budget consultations "dishonest": MP Simms

01/27/2012 11:18 EST | Updated 03/28/2012 05:12 EDT

Newfoundland MP Scott Simms says he's angry that a federal minister held budget consultation sessions in his riding without his knowledge.

Simms, the Liberal representative for Bonavista-Gander-Grand Falls-Windsor, said he had no idea that Government House Leader Peter Van Loan was in Grand Falls-Windsor on Wednesday, chatting with town's mayor and chamber of commerce about the upcoming federal budget. Simms only found out when a reporter called him after the session.

Simms said his area has a list of concerns that need to be addressed by the federal government. He cited the environmental clean up following the closure of the Grand Falls-Windsor paper mill, impending layoffs at Service Canada, and Search and Rescue response times.

The MP noted that he can understand why he didn't get an invitation, but he's not happy that that members of the public weren't given a chance to have their say.

'No, you did not consult with the people in my riding!'-Bonavista-Gander-Grand Falls-Windsor MP Scott Simms

"Peter Van Loan is now going to go back to Ottawa and say to me, well I consulted with all the people in your riding. No, you didn't consult with the people in my riding!" fumed Simms.

Newfoundland and Labrador's provincial budget consultations are advertised for weeks in advance. Simms said the federal government needs to follow the province's example.

"They twist themselves in a pretzel all the time because they want to be open and they want to be honest and they want to consult," Simms continued. "But they're not doing consultations. It's dishonest."

A statement from an official at Peter Van Loan's office said that "Scott Simms is out of step with his constituents".

The statement also indicated that Simms voted against the economic action plan, and that "the consensus from the consultation showed strong support for the government's low tax plan".

There is no indication on the federal government's website that there will be future budget consultations in central Newfoundland. But it does have a form which people can use to send in their their pre-budget comments.