Editorial Cartoon by Graeme MacKay, The Hamilton Spectator – Wednesday March 20, 2019
An unusually eventful budget day sets the stage for the coming election
Bill Morneau’s fourth budget is in the books, and that’s a good thing since he didn’t get a chance to deliver his speech in the Commons on Tuesday because of the din made by Conservative MPs determined to keep the public’s attention on the SNC-Lavalin affair.
The Conservatives jeered. They pounded their desks and they chanted “let her speak” in reference to their demand that former Attorney General Jody Wilson-Raybould re-appear before the justice committee to discuss why she resigned.
Undeterred, the finance minister gamely plowed on, incapable of being heard on radio and television broadcasts, or even by his own mates on the government benches.
So let’s recap here.
Morneau’s fourth budget is not only the last instalment of the Liberals’ relentless pursuit of middle-class voters before the October election, it was a road map showing exactly which voters the party needs for another election win.
Millennials. Seniors. Blue-collar workers are all targeted for new spending, whether it’s help buying a first home, enhancements to the Canada Pension Plan or money for training. Mix in the Canada Child Benefit from Morneau’s first budget and from cradle to the grave, this government is putting more money in Canadians’ pockets.
As usual, Morneau didn’t call it spending. He never has.
Throughout his news conference in the budget lockup, the finance minister referred to investments, the need to continue to invest in Canadians even if it meant blowing by the campaign promise four years ago to balance the books by now.
The Conservatives hammered at the failure to present a plan to return to budget balance, but only as an afterthought.
Party Leader Andrew Scheer seemed far more interested in portraying the budget as a blatant attempt to deflect attention away from the role Justin Trudeau and his office played in trying to stop the prosecution of SNC-Lavalin on fraud and corruption charges.
Scheer never said what the Conservatives would offer as an an alternative. Never said how his party would balance the books.
It all made for an unusually eventful budget day. A Liberal financial plan tuned into the anxiety voters might be feeling in advance of an election. The main opposition party honed in on keeping a scandal alive as long as they can. New Democrats and the Greens anxiously competing for any slice of the progressive vote they can peel away.
An election may still be six months away. The campaigning is already well under way. (Source: CBC News)