Editorial Cartoon by Graeme MacKay, The Hamilton Spectator – Thursday September 8, 2022
Justin Trudeau’s hands-off approach to inflation is becoming untenable
Prime Minister Justin Trudeau faces growing pressure to help Canadian households offset surging inflation as he meets with his cabinet in Vancouver this week to set his government’s fall agenda.
Unlike many of his global peers, Trudeau has avoided taking new measures recently to ease the burden of rising prices, even with inflation at its highest level since the early 1980s.
That may reflect a growing political sensitivity to criticism his government overspent during the pandemic, leaving the country with less fiscal room to tackle big future challenges like climate change. But there is also a wariness that doling out money to ease price pain may only wind up stoking more inflation.
Staying on the sidelines, however, has become increasingly difficult.
Trudeau is riding low in opinion polls after nearly seven years in power. And the likely election next month of Pierre Poilievre as new leader of the Conservative Party will add more urgency to the inflation debate. Poilievre has focused relentlessly on the cost of living during his leadership campaign, using the label “Justinflation” as he pins the blame on Trudeau.
Canada’s economy is doing better than most, thanks to high prices for commodities, its abundance of energy and strong population growth. Worker shortages are widespread. That means the nation would probably struggle more than peers to absorb more government spending that adds to demand.
From a short-term fiscal perspective, the government can use revenue windfalls to pay for any new measures it wants to take. The most likely scenario is something along the margins, targeted to those who need it most and in line with the Trudeau government’s net-zero commitments — so no blanket rebates for drivers filling up their cars with gasoline.
So far this year, the government has been pulling in billions more than anticipated.
National income — the best indicator for revenue — is on track to come in nearly $100 billion (US$77 billion) higher in 2022 than Freeland forecast in her April budget. That could mean as much as $15 billion in additional revenue.
For the first three months of the current fiscal year — April through June — the federal government ran a surplus, a surprise start given the $53 billion deficit projected for the year. The preliminary deficit for the fiscal year that ended March 31 was below $100 billion, versus $114 billion forecast earlier this year.
But it would be wrong to project those trends forward. (Financial Post)
From sketch to finish, see the current way Graeme completes an editorial cartoon using an iPencil, the Procreate app, and a couple of cheats on an iPad Pro …