Rex Murphy: Ignore what's happening in the world. The Trudeau government does
“On Tuesday, Justin Trudeau announced a new climate plan in Vancouver. I do surely hope he included Newfoundland in that announcement because we have been waiting for a new climate since that wretched John Cabot stopped where he did.” — A note from a kind reader. Amazing as it is, as inflation insidiously crawls across the land, skyrocketing gasoline prices freeze the blood (with a federal carbon tax increase set to hit on April Fool’s Day), as the economy is stifled by debt, supply chains rattle or crumble, and the country crawls out of the devastation of the COVID clampdowns, the Trudeau-Singh coalition government has announced its most determined climate agenda for Canada e
The predictable story coming out of Thursday’s budget is the partisan contrast between the Conservatives, on the one hand, and the Liberals and their junior partners in the NDP, on the other, over how much the federal government should be spending and on what.
But there is another contrast that is less expected, and perhaps more telling. It is the contrast between this year’s budget and the Liberal budget from 1973 — the last time the NDP agreed to prop up a Liberal minority. That government was also, of course, led by a prime minister called Trudeau, but the budget speech delivered by then finance minister John Turner was a world away from the one Chrystia Freeland delivered Thursday.
David Staples: If Trudeau's new climate plan is excellent, why does Rachel Notley blast it?
In this tense moment, as we limp from the crisis of COVID to the woe of land war in Europe, let us first try to be fair to Justin Trudeau. The prime minister has now proposed a new direction on energy policy. Of particular concern is his government’s call for a 42 per cent emissions cut for Canada’s oil and gas sector by 2030 and its growing opposition to nuclear power. My own fear is that such policies will hammer Canada’s biggest energy sector and hobble our most promising one. But, for all that, let’s acknowledge Trudeau’s goals are laudable. He wants to limit carbon emissions. He wants to preserve our beloved natural environment.
Canada’s treasury ‘depleted’ as budget weans COVID spending, eyes uncertainty
Turner’s speech was to the point. “Two major problems confront us,” he told the House of Commons. “The first is unemployment. The second is the rise in prices and costs. These are the key problems to which my budget measures are directed.”
Right away we see the first difference. In 1973, unemployment was a problem for several reasons, but a big one was the entry into the workforce of the largest demographic bulge in Canadian history. Finding work for the Baby Boomers was a government priority. Today, we have the opposite problem: hundreds of thousands of unfilled jobs, partly due to our out-of-touch post-secondary education policy and partly due to our cratering birth rate.
Fallout of Jay Beagle's actions sheds light on NHL's systemic violence problem
Fighting and violence in the NHL are often portrayed as “part of the game.” This idea was supported following the beating of Anaheim Ducks winger Troy Terry by Arizona Coyotes veteran Jay Beagle. Despite the violence on display, it was the words of Coyotes commentator Tyson Nash that drew ire. Nash blamed the skill of Ducks youngsters Terry and Trevor Zegras for Beagle’s actions. “That’s the problem sometimes with these young players,” said Nash. “You want to embarrass guys, and you want to skill it up, you better be prepared to get punched in the mouth.” Nash was admonished by media and the hockey world, although the fight itself was not.
This budget does nothing to address either problem. There seems to be an all-party consensus in Canada that we can compensate for our domestic policy failures by importing ever more temporary foreign workers and permanent residents (432,000 this year, a new record) to do the jobs we don’t seem interested in training young Canadians to do, assuming we bother to have them in the first place.
We also see the first similarity — 1970s-style inflation is back! In his speech, Turner announced right up front that his “budget [was] aimed at reducing inflationary pressures in Canada and at offsetting the effects of past inflation.” Fast forward to 2022 and inflation is up to 5.7 per cent. That is already higher than it was in 1972, when Turner would have started preparing his budget. By end of 1973, it had climbed to 7.5 per cent. A year later it was 11 per cent.
Turner’s response was to put more money in the pockets of Canadians by cutting personal income taxes, especially for the working and middle classes. This, he said was “essential to reduce the squeeze of rising prices on family budgets and the erosion of the hard-earned savings of Canadians.” He also explained that his plan to fight inflation would “lean heavily ... on the side of cutting taxes, as opposed to increasing expenditures.”
John Ivison: What's the difference between a Liberal and a New Democrat these days? Accountability
Question Period in the House of Commons is the longest running farce in Canadian history but the slapstick hit new highs this week when NDP Leader Jagmeet Singh questioned Prime Minister Justin Trudeau on the contents of the impending budget. Will the government commit to the housing and dental-care policies the NDP has been championing, Singh asked, wide-eyed. In characteristic fashion, Trudeau didn’t answer, beyond the usual blather about “having Canadians’ backs.” But he didn’t need to. Singh knew the answers because, as he revealed at his press conference earlier in the day, he’d already been briefed about much of the budget’s contents.
This year, by contrast, Canadians were told that inflation is “a global phenomenon” (translation: not the government’s problem) and that the solution is — surprise! — all that new social spending that last month’s Liberal-NDP pact promised. Apparently, anything can be economic policy if we want it badly enough.
Finance Minister Chrystia Freeland put it in her budget speech: “Housing and immigration and skills and child care. These are social policies, to be sure. But, just as importantly, they are economic policies, too.”
(Even the war in Ukraine is a major part of the Canadian economy, judging by how much Freeland talked about it — a sign, perhaps, of where her head has been for the last month when she was supposed to be drafting the budget.)
4 things that will affect your pocketbook in Budget 2022
The Liberals’ new term for dressing up expanded social programs as hard-nosed economic policy is “modern supply-side economics,” which Freeland helpfully explained is a “progressive, people-focussed” way to spend more money. In fact, what the latest budget promised is the opposite what is normally meant by “supply-side economics,” which is closer to Turner’s plan to cut taxes to drive private-sector spending.
Rex Murphy: Trudeau-Singh marriage will have grave consequences for the country
It came upon us rather suddenly, but all things considered, it was surely no surprise. I refer to the joyous political nuptials of NDP Leader Jagmeet Singh and Prime Minister Justin Trudeau, who are still in the honeymoon phase of their relationship. When the coalition — a word of some distaste to the parties that have publicly … what is the word … convened (Liberals are unsurpassed conveners) — came together and the parties put their fortunes and futures in each other’s hands, there was originally some curiosity about what it all meant. But surely that was obvious. It gave both leaders a path to “correct” the results of Trudeau’s COVID election.
The Conservative Party was quick to jump on the disconnect. Leadership front-runner Pierre Poilievre accused the government of “turbo-charging inflation” by running a $52.3-billion deficit this year, on top of half a trillion dollars of new debt since 2016. Speaking from Vancouver, he hammered the Liberals’ failure to address the increasing cost of living.
Poilievre noted that housing prices on the West Coast are among the most expensive in the world, gas prices are pushing $2.00 a litre, and the cost of groceries is forcing hard choices on working families. The answer, he said, is not more government spending but to “make government affordable so that your life is affordable.”
If it wasn’t before, the economic policy divide for the coming years is now clear.
On the one hand, we have reassurances about inflation with no plans to stop spending from the Liberal party and Chrystia Freeland.
And on the other, we have concern about inflation and warnings about the need for fiscal discipline from the Conservatives and ... John Turner?
Howard Anglin was senior adviser of legal affairs and policy and deputy chief of staff to former prime minister Stephen Harper. He is a postgraduate researcher in constitutional law at Oxford University.
Ted Morton: After 40 years, the charter is still one of the worst bargains in Canadian history .
The 40th anniversary of the Charter of Rights is an appropriate time to assess how it has changed the way Canada is governed. Have there been winners and losers? And if so, why? The biggest losers have been provincial governments, and those of us (both in Quebec and in the West) who would prefer to be governed by legislators who live in our neighbourhoods, share our concerns, and are elected and accountable to us, rather than by distant, unaccountable judges in Ottawa. This risk was evident at the outset.