Wednesday, March 23, 2016

#Budget2016 - some initial thoughts

I won't go in-depth into the budget, I'm not necessarily a numbers guy but I am definitely someone interested in where the government's priorities lay.

The Liberals definitely kept their promise to increase the deficit, and then some - $29.4-billion, with no forecast surplus for the next four years, is nothing to sneeze at. It is far beyond the "modest" $10-billion deficit initially promised.

However, taking cues from the reaction of my very Conservative family members, Trudeau will likely have some sympathy for the ballooning numbers considering the current state of the economy in some parts of the country. Granted that reprieve, the key will be managing expectations then - if the economy improves, Trudeau's government will take credit for their visionary spending budget. If it does not, then expect future Conservative leader Kevin O'Leary to tear a strip off. And if we end up somewhere in between, as we usually do, the Liberals will need good PR and justify their spending when little resulted from it (in appearance).

In essence, this is a dangerous line to walk and while I do believe in the theories and people behind it, politics is nothing if not a public relations game. Failure to produce results may be devastating for the Liberals  - after all, we asked Canadians to put their trust in us that we could manage this very controversial plan, and if it doesn't work, whether it is a fault of our own or not, we will pay dearly for the betrayal of that trust.

However, there is a lot in the budget that will go to help Canadians, especially those who need it, which, fyi, is the point. I've seen too many commenters asking about how it benefits them - even a comment as tone deaf as asking why they don't get anything unless they're poor, a senior, a veteran, have children, or are part of an FN community - the question is self-refuting! Most Canadians do not need government assistance, however many do, and this budget is aimed towards them (mostly). Its a strange sort of irony that some of the people asking most for government handouts are those who don't even need them or, in some cases, want them.

But I digress. On a couple of notes, the funding for new affordable housing is absolutely wonderful, and addresses one of the biggest concerns I have when it comes to  where the government spends its money. My hope is that the $2.3-billion will go a long way to alleviating poverty in our cities, and that it will be effective in getting hundreds of thousands of Canadians off the street into stable housing. It is one of our biggest national shames that a country as rich as Canada has so many homeless.

Also, the funding for infrastructure and community building for First Nations is a welcome, welcome sight. I don't think I even need to explain why. It is a nice change of pace from the Conservatives, who I don't believe lacked compassion for the state of FN communities but clearly lacked political direction on the issue. I hope our Liberal government never ends up in the same place.

Let's hope we can sell this budget in the coming days and weeks. The Conservatives are certainly lining up to try and knock it down, though Ambrose's criticisms to me seemed to miss the mark - and I say that as a person they should be targeting, as I will forever be concerned about that deficit number. They must be longing for the days when they had actual direction on these issues, rather than the flailing about they're doing now.

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