Across the country, Liberal MPs are out in full force proclaiming all of the amazing perks contained in the new federal budget. Here are a few points I would like to outline:
First, this budget is fiscally irresponsible. The Liberals were elected on a clear promise to run “modest” deficits of $10 billion in their first two years. They broke that promise and are now running a $29.4 billion deficit in 2016-17, triple their original commitment.
Finance Minister Bill Morneau’s justification was that the faltering economy needed a stimulus injection. Unfortunately, much of the deficit is for new program spending and does not boost Canada’s economy. The highly touted infrastructure projects to support economic growth were mostly deferred to later years, with a meagre $4 billion pledged for projects across Canada next year.
Second, the budget does not support business owners and reneges on the Liberal election commitment of lowering the small business tax rate to 9% from 11%. In response to this broken promise, the Canadian Federation of Independent Businesses indicated that businesses seemed to be at the bottom of the priority list of the government.
Third, the Liberal government has skewed priorities. The CBC, for example, received $150 million dollars in new spending for 2016-17. Agriculture, a $100 billion industry in Canada, received a pittance of $4 million in new support. Canada’s Armed Forces received notice that $3.7 billion in planned investments on ships, aircraft and vehicles would be deferred for at least five years, whereas $2.9 billion was pledged to the United Nations to fight climate change in foreign countries.
It is worth noting that the billions of dollars being spent on foreign climate change projects were not included in the Liberal election platform. Most unfortunately, a national strategy to help Canadians find employment was absent.
The prime minister, who also serves as minister of youth, even reneged on his commitment to develop incentives for businesses to hire young workers feeling the pinch of a competitive labour market.
As Jati Sidhu and other Liberal MPs make the rounds proclaiming this budget as a “celebration,” please remember that the most important promise made by this Liberal government was to run modest deficits in the short term. That promise has been broken, as has been the commitment to return to balanced budgets and the promise to reduce the tax burden on small businesses. That is cause for shame, not celebration.