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

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

 

Get local stories you won't find anywhere else right to your inbox.
Sign up here

Just Posted

This property, at 1980 Fairfield Place, is adjoined to Gonzales Hill Park and is the centre of community opposition and a B.C. Supreme Court case as owners are looking to build a single-family home on the lot. Jake Romphf/News Staff
Home construction near Victoria’s Gonzales Hill Park spurs legal battle

Gonzales Hill Preservation Society worried about impacts to the park’s wildlife, rare fauna, views

Traffic heading south on Highway 17 and looking to turn left onto Beacon Avenue wait for the light to turn Tuesday morning. A report finds the intersection is experiencing “failing levels of service” for certain movements during the morning peak hours as well as the afternoon peak hours. (Wolf Depner/News Staff)
Major Sidney intersection already deficient predicted to get worse

New report also finds area’s pedestrian and cycling infrastructure in need of improvement

The artist rendered Sadie with a few more ribs and wrinkles than she had in real life, and with the fading of her paint she looks a little sad. But real-life Sadie was an energetic hunting dog, her owner Cliff Curtis said. (Zoe Ducklow/News Staff)
Dog sculpture at Glen Lake Park based off a happy hunting hound

Sadie the dog was not as old as the concrete art looks almost 20 years later

Demonstrators at the legislature on April 14 called on the province to decriminalize drug possession and provide widespread access to regulated safe supply across B.C. (Jake Romphf/News Staff)
Rally calls for decriminalization, safe supply as overdose emergency turns 5

From 2016 to the end of February, 7,072 British Columbians died due to overdose

The Latoria South section of the Royal Bay development in Colwood could include a new long-term care facility. (Black Press Media file photo)
Colwood’s Royal Bay could be home to new long-term care facilities

Capital Regional Hospital District board approves $8M land purchase for purpose

(Black Press Media file photo)
POLL: Do you have a plan in place in the event of a tsunami?

Tsunamis have claimed the lives of more than 250,000 people between 1998… Continue reading

Anyone with information on any of these individuals is asked to call 1-800-222-TIPS (8477) or visit the website victoriacrimestoppers.ca for more information.
Greater Victoria Crime Stoppers wanted list for the week of April 13

Greater Victoria Crime Stoppers is seeking the public’s help in locating the… Continue reading

(Government of Canada)
Liberal MP caught stark naked during House of Commons video conference

William Amos, in Quebec, appeared on the screens of his fellow members of Parliament completely naked

Provincial health officer Dr. Bonnie Henry updates B.C.’s COVID-19 situation at the B.C. legislature, Feb. 1, 2020. (B.C. government)
B.C.’s COVID-19 case count jumps to 1,168 Wednesday, nearly 400 in hospital

Now 120 coronavirus patients in intensive care, six more deaths

Moss covered branches are seen in the Avatar Old Growth Forest near Port Renfrew on Vancouver Island, B.C. Thursday, Sept. 29, 2011. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Jonathan Hayward
B.C. blockades aimed at protecting old-growth forests reveal First Nation split

Two Pacheedaht chiefs say they’re ‘concerned about the increasing polarization over forestry activities’ in the territory

One of the grand prizes for this year's Hometown Heroes Lottery includes a seaside home at SookePoint, $1.5 million, and an Audi Quattro. (Photo courtesy of Hometown Heroes)
Hometown Heroes Lottery features seaside home in Sooke

A stunning seaside home in Sooke could be yours for the price… Continue reading

City workers from Duncan were busy recently putting up street signs in both Hul’q’umi’num’ and English. (Submitted photo)
Hul’q’umi’num street signs installed in downtown Duncan

Partnership with Cowichan Tribes sees English street names twinned with Indigenous language

A still from the video taken of a violent arrest on May 30, 2020 in downtown Kelowna. (File)
Kelowna Mountie charged with assault for caught-on-camera violent arrest

Const. Siggy Pietrzak was filmed punching a suspected impaired driver at least 10 times during an arrest

Most Read