BONOKOSKI: Liberals set to deliver ‘nothingburger’ of a budget
In the middle of NAFTA negotiations, U.S. President Donald Trump — predictably unpredictable — used the weekend threatening to impose heavy tariffs on Canadian steel and aluminum, two of our country’s major exports.
He has already cut corporate taxes to the bone to sharpen the focus on his America First campaign.
Yet the Justin Trudeau Liberals are set to table a budget Tuesday, not on what happens if NAFTA circles the bowl, or the effect of those threatened tariffs, but on innovation and gender parity.
In a recent trip to China, not known for its progressiveness, and despite great hopes of conjuring some kind of warm-and-fuzzy trade deal with an otherwise hardcore communist dictatorship, our prime minister instead came home with zilch to show.
Yet Tuesday’s budget will be about innovation and gender party.
Having just returned from India with many a Sikh headdress in hand and little else, Justin Trudeau had to admit to misspeaking about a $1-billion sharing agreement.
Turns out that only $250 million of that money is coming our way; with the rest headed to Indo-Asia
Even if every penny of that $1 billion India deal were to come to Canada, however, it equals about half the value of the U.S.-Canada trade which crosses our shared border in a single day.
Yet, instead of concentrating on NAFTA contingencies should the deal tank, or lowering the corporate tax rate to stay competitive with Trump’s plan for bolstering investment in the American economy, Tuesday’s budget will be all about innovation and gender parity.
There is no question that a government’s third budget is only interesting to policy wonks and those who have to file a certain number of words to fill a specific news hole.
It’s the budget tabled just before the country goes to the polls that has ordinary Canadians paying a bit more attention, because this when the colour of the ink being spilled is important, and the promises of the last election get weighed against the promises being put forward to con us once again.
We’re not there yet.
Where the Trudeau Liberals are right now, however, is not a very good place. Finance Minister Bill Morneau is still in the pillory over his lack of disclosure over his personal finances, and his botching of the Liberals’ plan to tax small business out of business.
He is Mr. Bay Street to the core, and who trusts Bay St.?
No one trying to make ends meet, that’s for sure, and there are more of them than there are billionaire business types willing to fork out what amounts to their version of pocket change for a sit-down dinner with the PM, personal friend of the Aga Khan et cetera.
There’s that, too, of course. If Bill Morneau is unrelatable to the average Canadian, Justin Trudeau is now totally off their charts.
That said, there is a budget that must be delivered by law, and so the Trudeau Liberals have decided to serve up what amounts to a “nothingburger” — a term popularized in the early 1950s by Hollywood gossip columnist Louella Parsons, but resurrected by Trump to describe the negative stories about him in the New York Times.
And, since there is a narrative that is required to to be written, how about the Liberals with their self-proclaimed feminist prime minister promising to narrow the gender gap in business and politics?
Unfortunately, it will be Bill Morneau laying out the plan.
No woman has ever been Canada’s Minister of Finance.
Perhaps Trudeau should have considered a cabinet shuffle before he decided on this budget’s pitch.
It might have been an easier sell.