A government written novel is long, full of hidden meanings and the table of contents is littered with self justification. I spent considerable time wading through some of it to get an idea of what the intentions were for the long term.
Some say it’s the long term vision of the Liberal agenda when in fact I believe some of the main planks were stripped off the good ship NDP and repainted in Liberal colors. Some point to the luxury tax on yachts, expensive cars, offshore owned vacant homes and other luxuries as making the very wealthy pay their share. Well it’s a day late and a dollar short as my mother would say. A real impact would be a percentage tax increase across the board.
The ten dollar childcare program was ripped right out of the NDP handbook. Yes the program is needed and it has been promised before. The promise is also structured to be another campaign promise that has reared its head again. Two things missing that are future essentials are one, the guaranteed annual income, which all parties subscribe to in some fashion and the shadow of the pharmacare program which would help millions of seniors and families.
It should be noted I am not against new social programs. My caveat is when new programs are designed they should be cost evaluated and planned for at least thirty years down the road.
Not all the measures are negative factors for the budget. There are measures to help small and medium business. There are rent subsidy programs and measures to benefit business and employees. There will be investment money to improve green technology and here again it should be noted we still need oil.
Keep in mind vehicle fuel is one thing but the vast resource in petroleum is used in a host of other products in the manufacturing sector.
While I agree many of the measures taken and reflected in the budget are necessary to ensure we don’t end in an economic catastrophe a considerable portion of it is designed to be an election budget which is in my opinion not far off. Why do I say that? Consistent polling shows if an election were held today the Liberals have a 56% chance at a majority government.
The Liberals have increased their margin hovering around the 37% mark depending on the poll. The Conservatives are at 29 to 30% and the NDP between 17 and 18% The Greens are nearing 7%. if you look at the political map regionally the Liberals are in good shape. Ontario, Quebec and Maritime Provinces. The Conservatives are still a western regional mix and the NDP has popularity in BC and the rest scattered regionally.
For O’Toole there is not enough negative impact in the budget to campaign on and the latest gamble on environmental policy could come back to bite in the ankle. The carbon savings account is being seen for what it is “A Carbon Tax” Tickle the alphabet all you want with pleasant words. When the letters are assembled the program is still a carbon tax.
For the NDP sharing the social program ideas might be the progressive thing to do however in the final analysis their ideas will be wordsmith-ed and crafted into policies the Liberals will take the credit for. So in the end the Liberal political novel is over seven hundred pages of promises and start dates that are dependent on the Liberals being the governing party. Without their re-election the promises made aren’t worth the paper they are written on.
The twist of irony is if the NDP supports the budget they lose planks of their platform to the Liberals. If they bring down the minority government and the Liberals lose they will be to blame by the constituents who want the programs. To make matters worse if there is an election triggered by the opposition it will add money to the already burgeoning debt. It is turning into a political game of dungeons and daggers and a game likely to see a Liberal victory. This is why I believe we are reading a pr-election budget.