BONOKOSKI: Risk management not even on the Trudeau Liberals’ radar
Conservative Leader Andrew Scheer, dumbfounded by a Liberal budget that was more the purple prose of social progressiveness than economic action, wasn’t wrong in castigating what was essentially a non-budget budget.
“Never has a prime minister spent so much time to achieve so little,” said Scheer. “Despite last year’s economic good fortune, Justin Trudeau has failed once again to deliver results that matter to Canadians.
“The deficit for this fiscal year is $18 billion, which is triple what he promised during the 2015 election.
“He has disrespected veterans with insults, court cases and broken promises,” said Sheer. “He has failed Canadians with disabilities by slamming them with higher taxes.
“He has failed Canadian workers by hurting small business, and (by) his disappearing act on Trans Mountain.
“The simple fact,” said Scheer, “is that Justin Trudeau is failing once again to match his big promises with action.”
The question is whether Canadians will hear Scheer or keep believing that Trudeau will one day wake up.
If Canadians want anything from their federal government, it’s assurances that the economy is protected and advanced.
A good economy is a security blanket to the middle class.
Former parliamentary budget officer Kevin Page looked at that aspect of Tuesday’s budget, however, and saw nothing reassuring.
When someone like Kevin Page, whose job it was to hold government finances to account, sees no protective measures in place, then Canadians need to start worrying in droves.
“On risk management, the document is weak,” said Page, indicating that, while the budget was 370 pages long, there was really only one page on economic risks. That’s right, one page.
“There was a paragraph in NAFTA negotiations, a paragraph on high household debt, and growing concerns about housing affordability,” said Page. “(But) there is little or no analysis around fiscal risks. What is the plan to hold government operations spending essentially flat for five years?
“There is no plan in the document.”
This, of course, is a frightening thought when our biggest trading partner has a president in Donald Trump who, on any given day, will threaten to toss NAFTA in the dumpster, or impose huge tariffs on any Canadian import he picks out of his ball cap.
So, risk management is therefore no small matter.
Except to the Trudeau Liberal, that is.
Along with the Liberals’ infrastructure spending lapsing in large amounts, Page was also critical of the lack of dollar value involving the growing carrot of universal pharmacare.
“This is a program that could cost tens of billions of dollars,” said Page. “But will the government raise taxes to cover it?”
Don’t look for an answer, even in the small print section of the budget document, because the answer is not there.
“My guess is that fiscal responsibility will be an issue in the 2019 federal election,” said Page.
That’s no guess.
That’s a certainty.
Meanwhile, back in autumn, Health Minister Ginette Petitpas Taylor stood up in the House of Commons and extinguished any notion of bringing universal pharmacare to Canadians.
So, what happened between then and Tuesday’s budget?
How about the Trudeau Liberals polling poorly on so many fronts?
The growing evidence is that the Liberals, particularly Prime Minister Justin Trudeau, have been stalked by Murphy’s Law ever since the teeny-bopper-like swooning began to fade.
As Murphy predicted, whatever can go wrong, will. And it has.
The budget announcement to pursue universal pharmacare, the projected cost never tabled, of course, was the planting of a seed to be yanked from the ground as a carrot in time for next year’s election.