28 January 2009

Response to the Budget

It is regrettable that we are in the situation of facing huge deficits that will wipe out the work of a generation in a mere five years. With the cumulative effects of interest on $85 billion over that length of time, the $105 billion in federal debt we have paid down since 1996 will be all but erased. It is a result of the poor management of the country's finances by the Conservative government, slashing its revenues with "good politics, bad policy" tax cuts while at the same time increasing spending to record highs. They like to argue that we're in a better position than our G8 colleagues and that we're entering the recession later and less deeply than other countries. This is happening despite Conservative mismanagement, and it is akin to taking credit for causing only a minor car accident instead of a catastrophe.
The details of the budget have their strong points, and it is commendable that Messrs. Harper and Flaherty have opted to listen to Canadians and the Liberals to get their input rather than attempting to continue the gamesmanship so blatantly and callously displayed last autumn. They clearly got the message that it is time to work together in the interests of the country. I am skeptical of their decision to further limit government's revenues in the form of a tax cut that, using the example provided yesterday by Mr. Flaherty, will result in Canadians having an extra $10 a week to spend. That $2 billion cut could have gone to better things, in my view, but I do appreciate the token gesture to help out my finances.
All that said, it is important that Michael Ignatieff has signalled his conditional support for the budget. The infrastructure and stimulus package needs to get out the door as soon as possible, and that cannot happen if the government is defeated in the House and an election is called. Delaying this stimulus package will only worsen our situation. Though the situation is not one we Liberals find ourselves and the country happy to be in, this is not the time for partisanship, and Mr. Ignatieff has demonstrated that by reading the document, suggesting improvements, and working collaboratively with the government to ensure that the needs of Canadians are being met.

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