Update: MP David Wilks backtracks on anti-budget bill comments
Kootenay-Columbia MP David Wilks issued a statement in support of the controversial Conservative government's omnibus budget bill, a day after saying he would vote against it.
Wilks, addressing a gathering of about 30 critics of Bill C-38 at the Best Western Hotel on Tuesday morning, said he would stand up and vote against the budget bill. However, he added that 12 other government MPs would have to vote with him.
On Wednesday morning, he posted a statement re-iterating his full support for the bill.
"I support this bill, and the jobs and growth measures that it will bring for Canadians in Kootenay-Columbia and right across the country," he said. "In our region alone, our Government’s Economic Action Plan 2012 will support jobs and growth by ensuring we can develop our natural resources in a responsible way that creates well-paying jobs while protecting our environment. Our Plan will also deliver investments in training, infrastructure and opportunities for youth, First Nations, newcomers and unemployed Canadians."
However, at a meeting of the Cranbrook Chamber of Commerce on Wednesday he tempered that statement by saying he didn't agree with every one of the 60 items in the 400-page document, referring to the duty-free limits specifically.
"I may not agree with everything in this book. I can say I don't like the tax exemption, but it's irrelevant because it's in the book. Taking it out of here is not happening," Wilks said.
He admitted that he heard from the Prime Minister's Office after making the comments in Revelstoke that were captured by a spectator who recorded video of Wilks's statements and posted it to YouTube. The recording caught the attention of the national press.
"You may not agree with all the policies but you have to pick and choose your battles. This is one I choose not to pick," he said.
While he may have backpedalled on his position on the budget over a 24 hour period, Wilks did repeat some controversial comments about "the way Ottawa works".
"Ottawa is run by a ton of 20-something bureaucrats who know that in three years my term is up and they will still be there," he said.
He explained to the gathered business owners that MPs are expected to vote as a party rather than as an individual.
"If you don't vote the way the party votes, you will be an independent the next day," said Wilks.
"When you tell me to vote against it, I can't unless you want an independent MP."
He also said that he would quit rather than vote against the budget.
"We do things to piss off the NDP, and they do things to piss us off. Because it's a bloodsport. Is it right? No, but that's the way it is," he said.
The initial comments, reported by the Times Review, caused one Macleans.ca blogger to put him on the "maverick watch."
Here is the video that was recorded and uploaded by Claude Awad:
With files from Sally Macdonald