Flaherty in Ottawa discussing the 3 Es and ATM fees

MPs were trickling back into Ottawa last week for the next Parliamentary session set to resume on Monday. The Conservative caucus arrived extra early for two days of meetings on Parliament Hill and Finance Minister Jim Flaherty took time out to speak with reporters.

Minister Flaherty offered some teasers on what his budget in March will focus on.

“Energy, because people are conscious about gas prices and natural gas prices, which have gone down, but they’re conscious of their day-to-day costs of living, which relates to energy largely,” Flaherty told reporters. “And then the environment, environmental issues because people want to be environmentally sensitive.”

Finally, he noted economic issues because Canadians want to make sure they can pay their bills, have good jobs and raise their families.

Aside from the Three Es budget, Flaherty has also been under scrutiny to ask Canada’s big banks some questions about automated teller machine (ATM) withdrawal fees.

Federal NDP Leader Jack Layton called last Thursday for legislation restricting bank machine fees. The proposed changes to banking laws would eliminate fees for using ATMs.

In last December’s question period NDP finance critic Judy Wasylycia-Leis pressured Flaherty to legislate the end of competitor automated banking machine fees.

Speaking with InterGovWorld Wasylycia-Leis said she plans to remain vocal about the issue and press Minister Flaherty when question period resumes in the House of Commons on Monday.

“We pursued it again last Thursday when Jack Layton was in Toronto and held a press conference,” Wasylycia-Leis said. “My intention is to continue with this when the House of Commons resumes and see what the Minister has in mind.”

“If we don’t get anywhere with the Minister in terms of action we are looking at putting forward amendments in front of the committee when it deals with the bank act,” she said. “C-37 should be before us soon and that will be our chance to make some changes.”

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