Wednesday, February 28, 2018

As Budgets Go, Maybe "C" For Effort, "D" For Execution. And One "F"

Justin Trudeau knows how to tell Canadians what they want to hear. He's long on promises but falls terribly short when it comes to delivering.

The Financial Post has published a nicely measured take on the Trudeau government's 2018 budget. It gives Trudeau fairly high marks for touching on so many important problems but a far lower grade for what it calls "second- or third-best solutions."

Trudeau seems intent on spending a little money on a lot of things, rather than a lot of money on a few things that would make a difference.

Gender, surprisingly, is the best example.

Morneau’s budget does an excellent job of making the economic case for aggressive policies that would narrow the gap between the number of men and women in the labour force. There are now more Canadians eligible for retirement than there are children below the age of 15. We need more workers and demographic data suggests there are hundreds of thousands of women who have been frozen out of the paid workforce.

“That changes today,” Morneau said in his budget speech.

Morneau again balked at spending real money on lowering the cost of daycare, which research shows is the most effective way to get more women working. Morneau might have proposed a tax credit tied to daycare costs. Instead, all he did was remind us that last year’s budget proposed $7.5 billion over 11 years for “early learning and child care.” That’s not enough to make a significant difference.

There was, however, one glaring omission in Trudeau's spending plans: the greatest threat facing Canada and the Canadian people. Green Party leader, Elizabeth May, put it this way:

Despite increasingly urgent warnings from climate scientists that the window to achieve the Paris target is rapidly closing, the federal budget tabled today does nothing to accelerate climate action and nothing to prepare for the impact of catastrophic climate events. In fact, today’s announcement that the government’s carbon pricing scheme, promised for this year, will not be implemented “in whole or in part” until January 1 next year, means that the whole plan is being weakened,” state the party in a statement released on Tuesday.

“The Paris target of holding global average temperature at no more than 1.5 degrees C above Industrial Revolution levels is a fundamental goal that should involve a whole-of-government approach,” said Green Party of Canada leader Elizabeth May (MP, Saanich-Gulf Islands). “Yet Budget 2018 does not touch subsidies to fossil fuels in the oil patch and for fracked natural gas.

“I had hoped to see some of the climate measures that were introduced in the 2005 [Martin] budget. In that era, a minority Liberal government brought in Eco-Energy retrofits for homeowners, rebates for hybrids and EVs, an initiative to expand our east-west electricity grid, and many other programmes to move us towards climate goals.

There is no doubt that the current Liberals talk a much better line on climate than the Conservatives, but having adopted Stephen Harper’s inadequate target they are on track to miss it, even though that target is incompatible with the overwhelming priority of achieving the Paris goal of 1.5 degrees."

This is, after all, the government's ultimate responsibility, protecting the nation and preparing the country and our people to meet the challenges that are barreling down on us.  Most of the world is taking this seriously, especially over the past year indifference has melted. Except for TrumpLand and Trudeau's Liberals where "drill baby, drill" and "dig baby, dig" are still the orders of the day. And, on that score, this budget deserves a big "F."

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