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Canada's Finance Minister Jim Flaherty delivers his budget in the House of Commons on Parliament Hill in Ottawa March 29, 2012. (CHRIS WATTIE/REUTERS/CHRIS WATTIE/REUTERS)
Canada's Finance Minister Jim Flaherty delivers his budget in the House of Commons on Parliament Hill in Ottawa March 29, 2012. (CHRIS WATTIE/REUTERS/CHRIS WATTIE/REUTERS)

Full text of Finance Minister Jim Flaherty's budget speech Add to ...

We will implement responsible resource development and smart regulation for major economic projects, respecting provincial jurisdiction and maintaining the highest standards of environmental protection. We will streamline the review process for such projects, according to the following principle: one project, one review, completed in a clearly defined time period. We will ensure that Canada has the infrastructure we need to move our exports to new markets.

Beyond this, we will build on our very effective partnership with the Canadian Federation of Independent Business, to continue reducing red tape across government. Our goal is to allow businesses to focus on what they do best–creating jobs and opportunity, from coast to coast to coast.

Supporting the most ambitious trade expansion plan in Canadian history

Finally, as a key part of our plan for long-term prosperity, our government is undertaking the most ambitious trade expansion plan in Canadian history. Experience has shown that opening new export markets provides an enormous long-term benefit to Canada. It creates new opportunities for Canadian businesses and good new jobs for Canadian workers. On a level playing field, Canadians have shown we can compete successfully with the best in the world.

For this reason our government has worked hard to open new markets for Canadian exports. Before 2006, Canada signed only three new trade agreements in 13 years. Since then our government has signed new trade agreements with nine countries, and we are in negotiations with many more. Just yesterday the Prime Minister returned from another trip to Asia, launching negotiations on new trade agreements with Thailand and Japan.

The United States will remain our largest and most important trading partner. Still, recent events and long-term trends indicate clearly that we need to diversify Canada’s export markets. We need to open new export markets in the world’s emerging major economies, while strengthening and expanding our existing trade relationships.

We will continue working with the United States to implement our joint Beyond the Border plan, to strengthen and deepen the economic and security links between our two countries. At the same time, we will harmonize our duty and tax exemptions for 24- and 48-hour trips to match levels for U.S. citizens.

This measure will ease congestion at our borders.

We will conclude negotiations on new trade agreements with the European Union and with India.

We will also begin entry talks with the Trans-Pacific Partnership, and continue building our growing trade relationship with China. By gaining greater access to these vast and growing markets, we will strengthen the financial security of all Canadians. We will create good jobs and long-term growth in every region of the country.

Looking a little ahead

Since we were first elected in 2006, our government has been focused on creating jobs and economic growth. Ultimately our goal is to ensure long-term prosperity for all Canadians. We are “looking a little ahead,” as Sir John A. Macdonald advised. We can see in the distance every reason to hope.

We see young Canadians, confident in their future; retired Canadians, secure in their senior years; Aboriginal Canadians, realizing their vast potential; new Canadians, strengthening our country as they have done in every generation. We see every region of the country, more prosperous than ever in our history. We see Canadian businesses and universities coming up with things no one has thought of before, leading to new opportunities and a better life for Canadians and for people around the world.

We see Canada, going from strength to strength in the 21st century. We see Canada, at the centre of the world–with a great and friendly market to the south; a continent of opportunity across the Atlantic; and a world of growth across the Pacific. We see Canada, whose wealth, while immense, will be measured ultimately in the greater happiness and security of its people.

We see Canada for what it is and what it can be–a great, good nation, on top of the world, the True North strong and free. Our government has been inspired by this vision from the beginning. Today we step forward boldly, to realize it fully–hope for our children and grandchildren; opportunity for all Canadians; a prosperous future for our beloved country.

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