Finance minister sticks to beetle aid promise

Finance Minister Jim Flaherty said Thursday his Conservative government is "absolutely" committed to its promise of spending $1 billion dollars to help mitigate the fallout from the pine beetle epidemic.

"We are on track doing that with the authorized spending we've done so far -- that's why Prince George is able to go ahead with the airport expansion to accommodate Asian flights," Flaherty told reporters. "So, we're on track in terms of the commitment of $1 billion in pine beetle rejuvenation."

Flaherty -- in a rare appearance for the federal finance minister here -- was the keynote speaker at a Conservative Party fund-raising luncheon. Unlike most appearances by senior cabinet ministers, Flaherty made no announcements and did not hand out any money.