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The lame-duck budget of 2011

Strangely, the budget that set a likely election in motion is a cautious document


 

Jack Layton wasn’t buying it.

Finance Minister Jim Flaherty delivered a budget this afternoon that contained, not everything the NDP leader had asked for, of course, but at least one significant nod in his direction. But Layton defied expectations that he might wait until tomorrow and only pass judgment on the fiscal plan after consulting with his caucus. Instead, he came into the foyer of the House late this afternoon breathing fire.

“Mr. Harper had an opportunity to address the needs of hardworking middle-class Canadians and families, and he missed that opportunity,” Layton declared, reasserting a moment later his assessment that budget didn’t “give middle-class families a break.”

With that, he declared that his MPs would, with those of the Liberals and the Bloc Québécois, vote against the budget. That would defeat Harper’s minority and force an election. The vote could come on Friday, and might set the stage for a May 2 election. Asked if he saw any chance of negotiating a last-minute deal with the Conservatives to save their minority, Layton said, “It’s difficult to imagine that.” Moments later, Flaherty said there was “zero chance” the government would amend the budget.

Strangely, perhaps, the budget that set all this in motion is a cautious document throughout. Flaherty expended as much energy boasting about Tory management of the Canadian economy through tough times as he did laying out a blueprint for future actions. And he had credible case to present. By most measures, Canada is enjoying the fastest growth of the major developed countries. Jobs shed during the global recession came back faster here than in most industrial nations. Flaherty is able to boast that more than 480,000 jobs have been created in Canada since the economy began to recover in the summer of 2009.

But if the way he framed recent experience sounded campaign-ready, the quiet new measures he unveiled don’t seem likely to give Tories much momentum out on the hustings. The most eye-catching new spending items were those that appeared designed to coax Layton on-side—and failed utterly.

Here are some of the key budget initiatives organized by the three big themes under which Flaherty packaged them—and one that he didn’t include:

Families and communities

The Prime Minister’s pre-budget sales pitch was built around the Conservative brand’s emphasis on supporting “families and communities.” Under that heading, however, the budget’s biggest item came on a file championed by the NDP—boosting the Guaranteed Income Supplement for low-income seniors. Flaherty came across with less than Layton wanted. But at $223 million this year, enhancing the GIS stands out, in this budget at least, as serious spending. Seniors with little or no income from the Canada Pension Plan or private pensions often scape by on Old Age Security and GIS. The new measures will boost GIS benefits for what Flaherty called the “poorest of the poor older Canadians” by $600 for a single retired person, or $840 for a couple. About 680,000 seniors are expected to qualify for enhanced benefits.

Another major item for families amounts to the Conservative response to Liberal Leader Michael Ignatieff’s promise to help family caregivers if he’s elected. Ignatieff proposes a major new benefit and tax credit for Canadians who have to take time off work to care for a sick family member. His proposal is modeled partly on the Employment Insurance paternal leave benefit.

Flaherty counters with the much less expensive new Family Caregivers Tax Credit. It’s a 15 per cent, non-refundable credit for Canadians who care for their sick or infirm children, spouses, parent and other family members. For a wife caring for a dependent husband, for example, the credit would be worth up to $300 a year. Overall, paying the benefit will cost the government just $40 million in 2011-12 and $160 million the following year. By contrast, the Liberals forecast their much more ambitious caregivers package would cost $1 billion annually.

Job creation

The 2011 budget’s job-creation measures aren’t activist by any standard. Flaherty highlighted, for example, a temporary credit available to small businesses that hire new workers. It’s expected to cost Ottawa a mere $124 million in 2011-12. Extending a work-sharing program, which pays EI benefits to workers willing to accept fewer hours, will cost just $10 million this year. Continuing another existing program that gives older workers at risk of losing their jobs access to training and other help will cost $25 million next year.

When it comes to new, direct support for industry, there’s a fund to promote clean energy technology, which will get $32 million this year and $64 million in 2012-13. But it is dwarfed by the $405 million earmarked over two years for Atomic Energy of Canada Ltd.—unavoidable spending the Conservative government is hardly eager to draw attention to.

The official explanation: AECL needs money to “cover anticipated commercial losses and support the corporation’s operations, including to ensure a secure supply of medical isotopes and maintain safe and reliable operations at the Chalk River Laboratories.” The backdrop for this spending is messy. The Harper government’s plan to sell off AECL has stalled for lack of buyers. Meanwhile, the Ontario government, which needs to make hard decisions on adding new nuclear generating capacity, is pressing for clarity on the future of the federally owned nuclear technology corporation.

Innovation and education

The former Liberal governments of Jean Chrétien and Paul Martin usually put more emphasis on the innovation theme than Harper. Still, no politician wants to go into a campaign these days without some policies designed for the digital age. So Budget 2011 earmarks $100 million a year to make the existing Canada Media Fund permanent. The fund supports companies that create content, which might previously have been shown only on TV, in formats that can be distributed on the Internet, wireless devices and other new platforms.

As well, the budget provides $65 million this year for genomics research and $80 million to help smaller companies adopt new information and communications technologies. None of these are major measures, especially when contrasted with past initiatives in this area, like the 2009 budget’s $750 million for the Canada Foundation for Innovation.

But cuts ahead

Almost hidden in the budget—beneath the carefully calibrated messaging about job creation, families and communities, and innovation and learning—is a promise of future spending restraint that might appeal to Conservatives’ small-government true believers.

After posting huge deficits in the 2009 and 2010 budgets, Flaherty promises to spill 25 per cent less red ink in 2011-12, on the way to posting a surplus again in 2015-16. But with little fanfare, he also set in motion a “strategic and operating review” of $80 billion a year in direct spending by federal departments. The aim is to cut a substantial $4 billion a year out of that spending, which doesn’t include transfers to the provinces and individuals, by 2014-15.

Squeezing that much out of departmental budgets will be a tall order. Flaherty said he hopes the savings will start showing up in the 2012-13. Nothing like it has been attempted since the deficit-cutting Liberal budgets of the mid-1990s. Which suggests that if today’s was a cautious document, Flaherty still thinks he still has a landmark budget in him. Maybe next year’s.

But whether he’ll ever get his chance is now far from certain. First, it seems, the Conservatives will have to manage to get themselves reelected.


 

The lame-duck budget of 2011

  1. And reelected they will be. With a majority.

    • Keep on dreaming Arturolexo. You might needed to keep you balance!

    • You sound very certain.
      What if you're wrong?
      Would you still support Stephen Harper, or has he reached a wall and it's time for a new leader?

      • No, the Conservatives don't need a new leader. That is just media speculation and wishful thinking on their part – some thing else to write about.

        Harper, when given a real chance, will do an outstanding job for directing this country onto the right path. The man hasn't had a fair chance yet.

        • And how do you define "fair chance"? Are you suggesting the voters of this country, you know, the majority of who voted against Stephen Harper, are big meanies because they did not give him a "fair chance"?

          The truth is between 2006-2008 Harper got anything and everything he wanted, aided by a liberal party that was simply unable to afford an election and therefore unable to vote him down. Harper had his majority – and he did nothing with it.

          • I hate this "majority voted against" line of argumentation. You do realize that that statement applies equally to all parties in a minority situation, yes?

          • Poker Face, here's the difference.

            For Liberal, NDP and Bloc voters, their second choice party is still in the same group of 3 centre-left parties. The Conservatives are almost nobody's second choice; their policies and goals don't overlap much with the other 3 who do in fact represent the majority.

            That's why the actual majority of Canadians are uncomfortable with a Harper majority.

          • Harper has not enjoyed a majority. That scenario has always been with the opposition. They are the ones that have squandered power. I will reserve judgement of Harper's true abilities after he has enjoyed four years of blissful majority coming in this election. Does making things up make you feel better about yourself, Gayle?

  2. Of the various reasons to bring a halt to the Harper led government, this budget isn't the one fight an election on.
    It's largely nothing new but a few symbolic pieces that if lost to an election may cause bitterness. The tax credit for volunteer firefighters is one long sought after by volunteers.
    At least two of the three opposition leaders that are proposing non-confidence had best have a good sell of their own alternative ideas if they chose the budget to befall the government. The Conservatives put forth their piece, where's the alternative choices?

    • The opposition don't get to propose spending bills. The time for them to propose their alternate plans is during a general election, ie. next week. After all, Harper didn't even bother to release a platform prior to the advance polls last time.

      • They can propose anytime they feel like it. It's called a platform. Much like ads, they don't require an election.

    • The big ticket items (prisons and jets) that have not been costed to Parliament were left out of the budget. Corporate tax cuts proceeding as planned.

      Those two things are good enough for this tax payer.

  3. The budget is lame. At this point, nobody cares about the budget. The Conservatives acted as if they were holier than though and they've failed. Harper is no Christian.

    • Why do you display your ignorance to the whole nation? You obviously don't know what you are talking about.

      • agreed. David. Why we bother reading this tripe is a minor mystery.

    • Who the hell are you to judge Harper as not being a christian?

    • Sad thing is he is a Christian. A right wing Christian. The scariest of all Christians. It explains his 'believe me' ideology.

  4. If you believe parliament represents Canadians, then Harper's contempt for parliament, his refusal to deal with the liar Oda, his treatment of the veterans, his collection of crooks he has in his government, all while smiling and telling us how wonderful the Tories are, is enough to make any Canadian vomit. Are the Liberals going to be any better? Not likely. Rewarding the the current scumbags in power with a majority would mean endorsing their actions. At least a minority will keep whoever wins accountable to a small degree. No wonder so many people do not vote. Like an old lady said when asked why she doesn't vote. "It only encourages them (politicians).

    • Harper majority coming because the opposition is stupid and got sucked in.

      • Whatever helps you sleep at night..

    • The old lady is old enough to recognize she has a civic duty to vote.

      She has to ask herself: What does she care most about?
      Pensions?
      The future of her great Granchildren?
      The economy?
      The environment?

      As much as I'd like to think otherwise, if none of those prompt her to vote, maybe it's for the best she stay home.

    • You are wrong in your judgements about the Conservative government. The "crooks" are mostly still propping up the Liberal party. Even Pat Martin now suggests that perhaps Bev Oda did not actually lie after all. The contempt issue is a partisan swipe — as are most of the "scandals" to date. I think a Conservative majority would be very helpful to politics in Canada. The minority government puts partisanship before the interests of Canadians. A Conservative majority would also give the Liberals time to sort out their issues and clean house.

      • Rose,you obviously haven't been following the activities of Harper's bagman in Quebec ! The contempt issue goes beyond mere partisanship unless you think it's OK for the PM to withhold documents regarding torture of Afghan detainees and then proroguing Parliament to avoid answering questions about it. Also, he told his staffers not to appear before a Commons committee investigating election irregularities; and why did he deliberately mislead the House about the true cost of the F 35 fighters, the new prisons and the corporate tax cuts? If a Liberal PM did this, would you still think it was not contempt?

    • Harper has spent more time and money trying to fix the VA than any other PM. Crooks in his government? Ha, kinda rich coming from a liberal. Your "old lady" thinking is how this country got into trouble. harper will win a majority and good things will be achieved.

      • The Macleans article The Commons: supporting the troops, shows how bad the Tories treat the veterans. What got the country into trouble is politicians who put their own desires ahead of what the country needs. The old lady quit voting because the pathological liars that show up at election time rarely follow thru on their promises. As far as me being a liberal goes, I have voted Tory for the last 30 years but will not support the dictator this time.

  5. "Harper's contempt for parliament"?

    Bill Clinton's voted impeachment for "lying under oath"?

    In both cases the votes/decisions are entirely along party lines (eg the current speaker is liberal, only second time in history of canada that speaker comes from opposition party, sort of like Kenith Starr with Clinton)

    If lying under oath didn't hurt Clinton, not sure a dispute over how much information is required will cripple Tories in Canada, CBC for example regularly withholds many times more information on their spending.

    • Sorry – this is Canada. Contempt of Parliament is a damn sight more serious than an office b.j.

  6. Well I guess there goes $300 million. The Conservatives tried to avoid an election for the sake of Canada, but I guess the coalition wasn't as concerned.

    • ha ha ha

      The fact they say they tried doesn't mean they actually tried. Though I dare say they believed Layton would cave and that is why they only threw him crumbs.

      • They could have added that 300 million to the budget to satisfy Layton. They chose not to, knowing exactly what would happen.

    • Funny how tories always say the opposite of the truth. The Canadian press is owned and controlled by tory business and any educated, plugged in Canadian can easily see that. We know that you continually whine that the press in not on your side but if the Canadian press were any further up the tories behinds they would see ATVs news anchore Steve Murphy's feet! For instance the CTV network or Conservative Television Network have more Senators than any other company in Canada. Pam Whalin? Mike Duffy, Minister Bev Oda and if thats not enough to convince the Canadian voters that our press is controlled by tory business did you ever ask yourself how Ben Mulruiny got his CTV job! I will end with this "the CTV reporters do not aspire to be great reporters, they aspire to be Senators!
      PS. Why do you think Tories want to kill the CBC? Its the only press they dont own!

  7. I wish more people took the greens seriously, or at the very least Elizabeth May. She seems to be the only honest party leader with her head on straight. If you've ever seen her debate this is clear.

    • How was May a useful addition to the debates? She was just another combative voice, and failed to present the Green Party as an alternative to the rest. Indeed, the Green Party has consistently lost any sort of distinctiveness under her leadership. Once upon a time (under Jack Harris, and still in Ontario), the party was a haven for socially liberal fiscal conservatives that cared about the environment. Now it is just another left-leaning party, uselessly splitting the vote. Heck, not even Elizabeth May thought people should vote for her party in the last election.

      • I agree with you totally in regards to May`s usefulness to the Greens—I see their vote percentage dropping considerably from the last election.

    • Are you into the sauce.? She is another American interloper who is only looking to keep a good job.In the last election she kissed butt to try and get appointed to the senate by Dion by not running a candidate in a Liberal riding.Had he one she would have taken that big posterior in the senate so fast the Green party would have thought she was a stealth fighter.In debates she is shrill know it all and should not be allowed in any debate until her party has seat in parliament and this should be a demand of every fringe party if she is given a spot in the TV debates.

      • Gawd, every stereotype in the book…and in only one paragraph!

    • :)))))))))))))))))))

    • What debate were you watching?

      I saw a shrill, rude, crazy-lady.

    • OMG, you cannot really believe this, Mike1111.

    • Why would anyone take the greens seriously? A one-issue party with a lying pitbull for a leader. You must be a teenager.

      • Actually they're not.

        They just come off that way because of their leader. It's unfortunate, really.

    • Something's wrong with the political systems when the two best debators are Elizabeth May and Gilles Duseppe. That means that ideas (whether you agree with them or not) have no sway among voters.

      I think we should vote for the Bloc Quebecois, because think about it: Do you really think Duseppe is going to want to pull Quebec out of Canada when he's the Prime Minister? Either way, it will be the end of separatism as we know it.

  8. In a globalized free trade world Pensions and Healthcare are Social Programs and can no longer be considered employment benefits. I demand equal treatment between private and public sector workers when it comes to Pensions, Healthcare and Working Conditions.

    We're all taxpayers and deserve to benefit equally.

    • Do you pay equal taxes? No.

    • Well…the only way to achieve that equality is to cut those benefits to public sector workers.

      Ain't gonna happen…especially with an election pending.

      …then again…you could always move to Wisconsin.

    • Progressive taxation has fewer & fewer people contributing while more & more make similar demands. A flat tax and no sales taxes would be perfect. I would also suggest, as the other poster does here, that we scale down public service benefits.

      • You neglect to mention that the reason fewer and fewer people are contributing is because more and more people are increasingly being driven in poverty as the wealth moves into fewer and fewer hands.

  9. The CPC knew they were going down. So they included pretend sops to each of the parties – half measures that they knew would be rejected but which they can try to sell as "reasonable compromises" in an attempt to "work with the opposition." They will then try to paint the opposition as intransigent and a minority government as inevitably dysfunctional. They will say that the election is an expense no one needs, and that the best way to prevent it from happening again & again is to give them a majority.

    The other parties – unless they have solid economic platforms they have yet to reveal – are going to have to keep the focus on ethics and CPC sleaze. The danger there will be the Adscm counter-attacks.

    • That's an interesting analysis of the CPC strategy you're giving there.

      • Yes, Keith is trying his best to save what can be saved!

        • Meaning what, exactly?

          It's no secret I don't like this government, but I'm giving credit where credit is due: one way or another, the opposition was going to force an election – either over the budget, or over the ethics issues. The Libs & Bloc were stupid to be so vocal about their intent to vote against the budget without seeing it; that left it to the CPC to pretend to make concessions to the NDP knowing it wouldn't be enough, and Jack walked into the trap.

          Now, instead of the election being primarily about ethics, the CPC have pushed the budget and economy to the fore – an area where they have had success (arguably by piggybacking on the policies and platforms of others, but the public by and large won't care about that). They have now taken back a good measure of control of the debate to come.

          If the opposition parties had taken them down on the ethics issues, they may have been able to inflict some real damage. By taking them down over a relatively "safe" budget, they have ceded some very imortant strategic ground to the Tories. That was a blunder, and they (and, ultimately, Canada) will pay for it.

          • Well…I highly doubt that issues like "Parliamentary privilege" are going to resonate with Canadian voters.

            We saw a glimpse of the Liberal's campaign slogans last night with Brison and Iggy repeating the lines about "this government spends 1000 times more on this than that"….and "ten times more on this than that…" Even Brison couldn't keep his lines straight on CBC as he rolled through the numbers. I can't see campaign slogans based on mathematical formulas really catching fire with voters.

            I think the real risk here is that the opposition parties are going to come off as ranting on about Ottawa "bubble" issues…the Harper "regime"…."threat to democracy"….essentially more of the "scary Harper" routine…while we'll see a toned down Flaherty, Harper…et al…calmly talking about economic stability, jobs, deficit reduction.

            Opposition parties better be careful not to go too "over the top" in their "regime" direction as it will just make them look desperate and out of touch with what Canadians are concerned about.

          • Good debate, keith. The opposition can still bring them down with the contempt of parliament issue, but you are right. This budget contains no poison pills of any kind. The liberals have left themselves with little to campaign on. We know the Oda thing is weak. The opposition's outrageously abusive behavior in the committee hearings denies the cons any attempt to correct the lack of information accusations after their numerous submissions. Carson is a private citizen and will leave no marks on this government. This election will be fun to watch.

    • Well thought…

  10. I have a terrible track record of making electoral predictions (partly because I make them early). So perhaps I am channeling the spirit of an equally bad prognosticator, the late Larry Zolf (RIP), but I believe Michael Ignatieff will be Prime Minister after the 2011 election. Here's why:
    -Most importantly, there is a non-zero chance that Canada's commodity boom will fizzle between now and May, with dire consequences for the economy – and Stephen Harper's re-election chances. Given Harper's use of the CMHC to buy votes, he will be complicit in the collapse and unable to blame this one on the US.
    -Conservative numbers are high presently, but that is partly because the unusually long period of election speculation gave them their usual post-writ bounce early.
    -Michael Ignatieff is like an undervalued stock with sound fundamentals. There is no way that Canadians actually like Dion more than Ignatieff, they just haven't been sufficiently exposed to Ignatieff (outside of Tory attack ads). During the campaign, Canadians will see that Ignatieff is smart and articulate, if not Mr. Personality. Unlike Dion, the Liberals will not hide him in the cellar, enabling him to enhance his popularity.
    -Because of campaign spending limits, advertising from the four not-Tory parties will swamp Conservative ads
    -Jack Layton's health will prevent him from campaigning as vigorously as possible, while NDP/Green strategic voters (encouraged by the coalition or die frame) will return to the Liberal party.

    Of course, no Liberals should be cheered by my prediction. I thought John Edwards was going to win in 2008, and that the Lib Dems were going to win the recent British elections.

    • Drem on Little Dreamer dream On.

      • I never said that was the outcome I preferred. I want a majority government, preferably a Conservative one.

        • I like things just the way they are. Canada's economy is doing better than most, and if any one party is able to form a majority in Parliament, it might only make things worse. I'm voting New Democrat, but that's only because I like the MP from my riding.

    • I disagree with you totally concerning Ignatieff`s usefulness to the Liberal Party. I have no idea what will happen to commodities or the benefits of campaign advertising, but I do see Ignatieff becoming less appealing by the day to the electorate if they are looking for a new PM.

      • Only 14% of Canadians like Ignatieff – that seems artificially low. I'm not saying he is a great leader, I'm saying that he is at least a bit more likeable than say, a used car salesman.

        • Some excellent points, although I disagree with your conclusions. I agree that the Conservatives peaked before the election and their polls benefited from pre-election hype. I also agree that Ignatieff's numbers will climb substantially. This is in part because he is a better performer than many give him credit for, and in part because politicians are generally judged against expectations. A third reason is that the Conservative attack ads while remaining effective are stale. They are still using variants of the just visiting meme and it is starting to look lame after 5 years.

          My prediction is that the Liberals will be polling much better through the heart of the campaign and your prediction of a Liberal minority government will not seem such a stretch. However, Harper is a remarkably disciplined campaigner. I don't expect he will make any major mistakes and that while his personal numbers will fall somewhat they will remain higher than Ignatieff's. Near the end of the campaign, the NDP and Liberals will turn their attacks towards each other and another solid Conservative minority results. I do hope that their plurality suffers enough that their increasingly bad behavior is seen as a liability.

          That said, both of are assuming a relatively uneventful campaign, and my strongest prediction would be that an uneventful campaign is unlikely.

          • I don't think campaigns matter very much at all. Political systems have underlying equilibrium levels of support for each party determined primarily by demographics and economic forces. That shouldn't be too hard to believe if you look at polls over the past 6 years. Sure there are exogenous shocks, but things soon return to earth. Campaigns serve to reduce uncertainty – as voters pay more attention, support levels move closer to the underlying equilibrium (whereas pre-writ polls may be somewhat erratic).

            It is less clear to me that gaffes, debates and speeches have much of an impact. Sure, you've got "you had an option, sir" and Stanfield fumbling a football, but you also have a litany of other, similar events that had no discernable long-term impact. Joe Clark clearly won the 2000 debates – where was his supermajority? Chretien said all manner of stupid things (that he didn't like westerners or pepper on his plate), and did quite well. That suggests to me that campaign events only really matter when there is something fundamental behind them. "You had an option" worked because the Liberals were a tired old government presiding over high unemployment, inflation and big deficits. The Stanfield fumble seemed to have an impact because Stanfield's support was soft, price controls were unpopular, and the economy wasn't in that bad shape. However, those forces would have ebbed away at Stanfield's support anyway.

        • You might like Michael Ignatieff if he reminded you of a favourite prof, but it that's the case, then he should have never left academia.

          Then there's Stephen Harper. The Conservatives should have had a majority three elections ago, except that their leader is… well, Stephen Harper. I have never liked him, and I think the same goes for most Canadian voters, including Tories.

          Then there's Elizabeth May? Do you think she could have sent even two transport planes to Libya?

          For my money, the smartest of the bunch is Gilles Duseppe. I certainly don't agree with Duseppe wanting to break up Canada, but he speaks English as a second language and can still hold his own in Questions and Answers with the Anglos, unlike Stéphane Dion, who couldn't have answered that question in either English or French because he couldn't depart from a script.

          Looks like we're stuck with Harper until somebody can get a majority.

    • Ignatieff's only proposals were national schemes for childcare, university/college tuition and other programs that would cost tens of billions to implement. canadians want an austerity budget and were willing to settle for Harper's steady go-slow approach. This man has no platform that is nailed down and the party has no ideology left but to compete with the extremist marxist fringe party run by jack laytongrad. You are dreaming, hoser.

      • I'm not clear on how F-35's and corporate tax cuts fit into an austerity budget. I support them (I'm a Tory), but the only austerity I see is a promise for the future. Moreover, unlike Chretien, Harper looks like he will leave transfers to the provinces alone, limiting his ability to make cuts.

        Moreover, if you look at the recent Nanos poll, social spending trumped the desire for tax cuts or efforts to tackle the deficit. When you get into the specifics, things usually look even worse for spending cuts. People like deficit reduction in the abstract, so long as they can imagine that others are bearing the burden. They also like promises of new social spending like childcare programs and the caregiver tax subsidy (which the Liberals will probably never deliver on if elected anyway).

  11. This was a big mistake by the opposition particularly the NDP.Canadians realize that we would all like to see greater social services but we are also aware of the fact that we are just coming out of a world wide recession.We are not quite as dumb as the Liberals believe but apparently the NDP bought it.To argue about he F35 after it was the Liberals who originally instigated the order and to see them cancel it and our young men and women be back to the state of preparedness we were when they were in power.We are also not so stupid that we will accept their talk of a corrupt government,This after Ad Scam is too much .t Harper and Layton have paid their dues as loyal Canadians.When the unions see Ken Georgetii on the TV clip saying Layton should support the budget they will lose votes .There is a lot of union jobs that depend on defence spending and building prisons..The old B.S about tax savings for big corporations only flies with those who have no clue.

    • Yes, I believe the NDP made a mistake. Too bad, really, because the NDP does stand on principles; at least the party stands for something, which cannot be said about the Liberals these days.

      Had Jack thought it through a little longer, he might have come to a different solution. But hey, now maybe the Liberals will be the ones to pay. Jack might come out of the election better than expected because he is the one who knows what he and his party are asking for, even if not most Canadians want that, there is a percentage of voters who like the principled stand. The Liberals don't have such a stand any longer and some of the Lib vote might go over to the NDP. That would be good.

    • sorry, when did the previous Liberal government "instigate the order" for F-35s? I think you need to re-read the timeline on this file: participating in the development of the JSF program is not the same as placing an order for F-35s.

  12. Al in Hamilton
    Ignatief will fall on his own sword ,go back to Harvard and it will be a cold day in Hell before you see bleeding heart, tax and spend Liberals in power. As the baby boomers age, their priorities shift- the hippies finally grow up and realize that less tax, less government means more in their own pockets.There is a movement in North America that resonates with more and more average voting tax payers- those on the left, are going to have to define themselves as an alternative and that is not going to happen. This election will be another conservative victory perhaps even a majority and it will be a , long time before a Liberal stays at 24 Sussex Drive..

    • I truly hope you are right.

  13. Hope Liberals have Kevin Page cost their campaign promises…..

    To have a 'better' plan, the Libs and NDP have to show they can be out of deficit by 2015
    AND better the $2 Billion in new initiatives in Flaherty's budget.

    • I'd be happy with a plan where they realistically budgeted being out of deficit by 2015.. the CPC budget relies entirely on everything going absolutely smoothly for the next four years.

      One thing about Martin, he knew how to budget. A person may not have liked how he made cuts, but dammit, he at least had them listed out and built plenty of cushion around his projections to make sure that even if things went south he could live up to what he said he would.

      Of course, the CPC have no concerns about living up to what they say they will. They're quite confident in knowing that blind sheep like you will continue to support them no matter what they do.

      • The Liberals could consult with Paul Martin – as did the other leaders of the G8.

    • The CPC plan to eliminate the deficit by '15 is fantasy based on cutting 20% of the budget by 25%, if they keep their promises. Not likely.

  14. Family Caregivers Tax Credit. It's a 15 per cent, non-refundable credit for Canadians who care for their sick or infirm children, spouses, parent and other family members. For a wife caring for a dependent husband, for example, the credit would be worth up to $300 a year.

    What a pointless waste of time. A tax credit when someone leaves their job to take care of a family member delivers…. nothing and $300 a year is a trivial amount of money. It's not even half a month's rent. Why even bother with such half-bottomed measures?

    Lung Transplant patients, because of the nature of the surgery, often find themselves giving up their jobs and moving to major urban centres because that's where the resources are and require someone to go with who has to do the same. Because of the nature of the surgery (requiring someone else to die…. with the right genetic match up… and blood type…. and in a way that doesn't destroy the organ… please be nice enough to sign your donor card!… and no one else in worse condition than you that meets those first two matches two), these people can sit there for months or years on maintenance physio schedules that preclude taking work with any "normal" schedule. While there are frequently Provincial programs to help with some costs, although they have limits too, the Feds coming along and Saying: "here's $300 for your trouble!" is a bloody joke.

    • It's not even "here's $300 for your trouble!", because it's a non-refundable tax credit. So assuming that you're able to make enough to have to pay taxes while caring for your sick or infirm dependant, it's like "Okay, we won't take this particular 300 from you."

  15. I hope he keeps talking about "hippies". I was waiting for a "get off my lawn".

    • Tax and spend – that's worse than borrow and spend?

  16. Cancell the jets and crime expenditures and spend money only on ordianary Canadians. We do not need 50 or more billions of dollars wasted. Maybe it is time to give the NDP a chance at government. They seem the most honest. Otherwise may waste my vote on the “Mary Jane” party. Would make more sense.

  17. Michael Ignatieff is the only plausible choice.

    I'll bet he has a brain enough to realize that Canadians need a FISCAL CONSERVATIVE.

    • Fiscal conservatism is not:
      – Raising taxes on corporations 3.5%. That kills investment, and by direct consequence, the tax base.
      – Spending billions on uncosted support programs that cannot be easily wound down, ever. Like reducing OAS to 3 years for immigrants instead of 10. Child care policies that have been rejected 3 times over. Etc.

      • Raising taxes on oil companies back to where they were a couple years ago is going to kill investment? Please.

        Put it this way, better a tax increase for them than for me. And somebody is going to have to pay.

      • Please define 'kill'. I support corporate tax reductions, but I don't believe that the difference between 18.5% and 15% is the difference between economic collapse and economic nirvana as some would disingenuously suggest.

      • It only kills investment if there are better places for the corporations to go.

        Even with that 3.5%, Canada still retains one of the (if not the very) lowest corporate tax rate in the world. Add to this that we're well educated, stable, technically literate, and don't require companies to shell out for health-care, to flatly say that it'll kill investment is simply not thinking things through.

  18. Did this budget do anything good for Medicare? I doubt it.
    "Harper's Government: Privatize Medicare" http://www.clearpolitics.wordpress.com
    (Click "About" re reading posts, or on my picture.)
    @Rolf_Auer

    • I like the following quote on your webpage, by Margaret Mead:

      "Never doubt that a small group of thoughtful, committed citizens can change the world. Indeed, it is the only thing that ever has."

      But the scary part is, that's how Harper got to be Prime Minister.

  19. The opposition fails yet again…

    Making a stand of principle, while honourable, doesn't work in this political climate. The LPC and NDP better have a solid campaign plan or they are going to get trounced.

    I loathe the way the CPC has behaved and it's a shame that not more of the population feels the same way, but hey, that's the way it is, full marks for the CPC in making headway despite everything.

    I can't say I support en election being called on such a budget. It's a waste of tax payer dollars. The contempt charges would sit much better with me.

    • And I'm beyond sick and tired of hearing how Canada is the envy of the rest of the G8 and that whatever do should be considered good enough.

      Complacency is the enemy of progress.

      • the only people saying we are the envy of the G* is Harper and his seals!

  20. I said it before and I'll say it again. Michael Ignatieff is the only plausible choice, for a competent, national leader.

    Do we believe in an educator, like Ignatieff, or a lawyer like Flaherty, who is messing up the economy.

    I am quite certain that Ignatieff will be a fiscal conservative if he is elected and that is clearly what we need.

  21. I would have thought this budget was tabled by an NDP.

  22. Gallup/Ipsos poll finds 43% of Canadians don't believe in evolution. They are likely bedrock Conservative voters, and that is the only reason Harper is the PM.

    Liberals have to work twice as hard as the Conservatives to get elected because ignorance is hard to crack.

    • I agree and to make matters worse… The Canadian press is owned and controlled by tory business and any educated, plugged in Canadian can easily see that. We know that they continually whine that the press in not on your side but if the Canadian press were any further up the tories behinds they would see ATVs news anchore Steve Murphy's feet! For instance the CTV network or Conservative Television Network have more Senators/politicians than any other company in Canada. Pam Whalin? Mike Duffy, Minister Bev Oda and if thats not enough to convince the Canadian voters that the press is controlled by tory business did you ever ask yourself how Ben Mulrony got his CTV job! I will end with this "the CTV reporters do not aspire to be great reporters, they aspire to be Senators!
      PS. Why do you think Tories want to kill the CBC? Its the only press they dont own!

      • It's an old Conservative tactic that has worked superbly in the States. You repeat the old lie that the liberals dominate the news media when Talk Radio is dominated by Rush Limbaugh, and soon people know longer even question it. Money talks and B.S. walks. The Conservatives in every country in the world have the money because the corporations all want the Conservatives to win so that they can make more money. If the Liberals are lucky, they won't get their offices padlocked.

  23. So if you are an intelligent Conservative, the message is clear. Vote for Michael Ignatieff.

  24. The Tories are trying to appeal to everybody, it seems. "You want help for middle class families? Hey, we got it! Grandma needs a hip replacement? We'll give you a tax credit!" But if Flaherty is a real Conservative, he will slash spending to the bone and hospitals and schools will continue to go underfunded. But guess what, folks! Manic Mike Ignatieff and Diamond Jack Layton won't do much better. Hospitals and schools will continue to go underfunded, and the very idea of raising taxes makes even Liberals and New Democrats weak in the knees. Either Stephen Harper wins a majority or my name isn't Sam Steele.

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