Editorial Cartoon by Graeme MacKay, The Hamilton Spectator – Thursday October 26, 2017
Economic statement was where Morneau wanted it: on the middle class
April may be the cruellest month to a poet, but October has been anything but kind to the Liberal government — particularly Finance Minister Bill Morneau.
Whether it was allegations of conflict of interest over his continued multimillion-dollar stake in the family business, or his heavily panned efforts at small business tax reform, the Liberals suddenly found themselves fending off suggestions that they weren’t at all the party of the middle class.
That’s where Tuesday’s fall economic update fits in. Announcing that the Canada Child Benefit will be indexed to inflation next July — a full two years ahead of schedule — and the decision to increase the Working Income Tax Benefit are the proverbial shiny objects intended to get Canadians to focus on some good news.
“This is about having trust in Canadians,” Morneau told reporters following the release of the 74-page document called Progress for the Middle Class. “Investing in Canadians was the right thing to do.”
Just in case you missed all the good news, let’s sum it up here.
Economic growth: up! Employment: up! Wages: up! Revenues: up!
At any other time, these strong economic indicators would be the most prominent feature in news coverage.
But this last period hasn’t been just business as usual for the Liberals. The focus has been on how Morneau handled his personal finances, not on his handling of the country’s finances.
At the Liberal cabinet retreat last month, Prime Minister Justin Trudeau told reporters that the Liberals didn’t get elected two years ago by going door to door promising to improve Canada’s macroeconomic indicators. It was a good line, and elicited chuckles from his assembled cabinet ministers.
Morneau, as is his practice, refers to all these things as “investing” in Canadians. Investments that will have a positive impact even if, for example, the current round of NAFTA talks fails. Even though consumer spending has already led to historically high levels of household debt. (Source: CBC News)