Finance Minister Bill Morneau delivers his first budget speech in the House of Commons March 22.

BC VIEWS: Budget doesn’t balance itself

Justin Trudeau government plans to add more than $100 billion to the national debt, and most of it isn't for infrastructure

The first Justin Trudeau budget continues the new Liberal government’s epic string of broken promises.

Expanding the Canada Pension Plan went by the wayside to start the year, as jacking up payroll taxes wasn’t seen as a good way to respond to rising unemployment. Then there was the national carbon price, which dissolved into a vague commitment to keep working at it with the disagreeing provinces.

Now there is the torrent of red ink that washes away the solemn promise that deficits would be no more than $10 billion a year, for no more than three years.

According to rookie Finance Minister Bill Morneau’s new guesses, deficits will be $29.4 billion this year, $29 billion next year, $22 billion in 2018 and a mere $17.7 billion in 2019 as the governing party campaigns for re-election. The budget even projects another deficit for the year after, apparently assuming that all this borrowing and spending will deliver another majority government.

The campaign promise was built around the claim that infrastructure spending was needed because the country had slid into recession. Turns out there was no recession, except in oil-dependent Alberta and Newfoundland, and no deficit until the Liberals opened the spending taps.

And what about the promise to cut the federal small business tax from 11 to nine per cent? Priming the engine of job creation and all that? Gone.

Not even the infrastructure promise is kept. Most of the spending is for ongoing programs, including “equalization,” even though B.C. appears to be the only “have” province left at the moment.

On budget day, the B.C. government sent out Communities Minister Peter Fassbender with strict instructions to bite his tongue about this busted fire hydrant of borrowed money. Fassbender announced that he and Premier Christy Clark are “delighted” at the infrastructure spending, of which the only identifiable new project for B.C. is a sewer system in North Vancouver.

Massey Tunnel replacement? Nope. Transit lines in Vancouver and Surrey? We’re continuing preliminary engineering work. Widening the Trans-Canada Highway and Highway 16 to Alberta? Maybe these will be promises for the next federal election.

Fassbender tap-danced when asked why the only province with a balanced budget should be pleased about a federal pledge to increase the national debt by about a quarter.

He kept circling back to his key talking point, that Ottawa didn’t sabotage B.C.’s liquefied natural gas plans by taking away capital cost allowances for this industrial investment. Instead Ottawa is jeopardizing the biggest LNG project by dithering over environmental impacts that have already been studied for three years.

The biggest Trudeau promise of all is to rescue the middle class from the awful stagnation inflicted by the Harper years. The title of Morneau’s debut budget is “Growing the Middle Class.”

A quick fact check takes me to Statistics Canada’s table of median family income by province. After the 2009 economic crisis (triggered by reckless debt among other things), B.C.’s median income for all family types was $66,970 in 2010, $69,150 in 2011, $71,660 in 2012 and $74,150 in 2013.

That’s about the same increase as the national rate – not spectacular, but pretty good considering low inflation. Better than most of the world, in fact.

Again, this government is borrowing gobs of money to throw at a problem that may not even exist.

At this point I’ve all but given up on the Trudeau government displaying actual competence, for anything other than going to parties and flinging rose petals at climate change.

I’d settle for hearing them tell the truth about something.

Tom Fletcher is B.C. legislature reporter and columnist for Black Press. Email: tfletcher@blackpress.ca Twitter: @tomfletcherbc

 

Just Posted

Merville resident looking for help to name original settler families

Janice Isenor is hoping to figure out which families settled where in Merville 100 years ago

Cultural sharing for Comox Valley School District song unveiling

After nearly a year in the making, a special gift was presented… Continue reading

Best of World Community Film Fest screens Tuesday

The votes are in from the recent World Community Film Festival and… Continue reading

Union Bay Improvement District board apologizes to trustee; deadline remains for other demands

UBID board complies with one of the demands of a letter threatening legal action

Valley’s Women’s Memorial March honours those missing and murdered

On Thursday morning shortly before noon, around 60 people gathered to honour… Continue reading

WATCH: Historic night in Red Deer as 2019 Canada Winter Games kicks off

Star-studded Opening Ceremony features athletes from across Canada

Eight cases of measles confirmed in Vancouver outbreak

Coastal Health official say the cases stem from the French-language Ecole Jules Verne Secondary

Plecas won’t run in next election if B.C. legislature oversight reforms pass

B.C. Speaker and Abbotsford South MLA says he feels ‘great sympathy’ for Jody Wilson-Raybould

Workshop with ‘accent reduction’ training cancelled at UBC

The workshop was cancelled the same day as an email was sent out to international students

Former B.C. premier Gordon Campbell accused of sexual touching

Accuser went to police, interviewed by Britian’s Daily Telegraph

Man in Vancouver Island hotel shooting pleads guilty to second-degree murder

Brandon Tyler Woody, from Victoria, to be sentenced in late March in B.C. Supreme Court

Judge rules Abbotsford home must be sold after son tries to evict mom

Mom to get back down payment and initial expenses

Trump officially declares national emergency to build border wall

President plans to siphon billions from federal military construction and counterdrug efforts

Most Read