About the Blog:

Guelph Politico is locally sourced and dedicated to covering the political and cultural scene in the City of Guelph. Est. 2008.

Tuesday, January 27, 2009

The Final Countdown

So the most surprising part of the budget was that there were no surprises in the budget. Shoot, even the CBC didn't show it live and instead unleashed the talking heads as Jim Flaherty laid it down for the House.

On the plus side. there's lots of stimulus: $40 billion in the next two years, but on the down side we're looking at $85 billion in deficits over the next five. Then there's $20 billion in personal income tax cuts this fiscal year and business taxes too are also cut by $2 billion, with up to $200 billion to be made available to businesses in liquidity and financing to ensure Canadian consumers and businesses have access to credit. The unemployed get five extra weeks of E/I, but nothing will be done to accelerate the time in which applicants can start receiving those funds.

Quebec? Hosed, changes to the equalization formula will go forward. Cities? Sure, they're going to get some of that infrastructure cash, but they'll have to navigate the usual governmental obstacle course of red tape to get the money. Conservative street cred in being the stewards of sound and balanced budgets? Gone, Flaherty was all about taking a chance because "These are extraordinary times," he said in a news conference.

And that's not to mention the seriously, sudden turn to a more conciliatory tone coming from the Finance Minister and, by proxy, the Prime Minister's Office. "In the past quarter, the world economy has deteriorated substantially. We consulted broadly with Canadians (and) what we heard from Canadians is that we need to do certain things right away to stimulate the economy."

Well not according to the NDP and Bloc. Giles Duceppe said that there was "nothing in [the budget] to obtain our support." And Jack Layton said it fails to "protect the vulnerable, doesn't create jobs for today and doesn't create jobs for tomorrow." So the fate of the Harper government is now up to Michael Ignatieff in his first real test as Liberal leader. But Layton warned Red leader today, through reporters, that it's "absolutely" Ignatieff's responsibility to defeat the budget because it fails to meet the tests "at a minimum" that he set out for his support.

Oh. what to do, what to do? I'm sure it's going to be a sleepless night for Iggy, but we'll know by 11 am tomorrow what way he's going to swing. Smart money says he'll support the budget with conditions. But it appears in the meantime that things are back to normal on Parliament Hill: the NDP and the Bloc hate everything, the Conservatives get stabby and the Liberals are forced to decide how deep they want the shiv to go.

Look! A press release:

Frank Valeriote reviewing budget with caucus

Frank Valeriote, Member of Parliament, is joining his Liberal colleagues for a careful review of the federal budget.

"The Liberal party has been clear and concise on what we wanted to see in the budget—protection for the most vulnerable Canadians, protection of Canadian jobs and creation of the jobs of tomorrow," said Valeriote. "This government is long-overdue for action to address the economic crisis. This budget must be considered carefully to determine if it will provide the action necessary to get our economy back on track. Above all else, the Liberal Party will act in the best interests of the country."

The economic challenges facing Canada were evident long before the government tabled its autumn economic statement and Parliament was prorogued. It is discouraging that this Conservative government has taken so long to signal a willingness to act.

In September, the Prime Minister said if we were going to have a recession, we would have had it by now. In October, he told us there was no recession, but there were ―a lot of great buying opportunities emerging as a consequence of all the panic.‖ In November, Mr. Flaherty presented an economic update setting out a surplus, when now we know that this Conservative government was aware we were headed into a recession and nevertheless mislead us about it.

"Over 100,000 Canadians have lost their jobs in the past two months. It is absolutely unacceptable that this government has wasted time playing political games instead of focusing on the economic crisis," said Valeriote. "It makes one wonder whether we can believe anything that comes out of this Conservative government."

"In these tough economic times Liberals will do our best to make Parliament work for the sake of Canadians," said Valeriote. "However, making Parliament work does not mean that the Prime Minister gets a free ride – he remains accountable to all Canadians and Parliament."

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