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The shortest of short-term investments

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Shinder Purewal is not impressed with the Trudeau Government’s 2019 Budget

During the 2015 election campaign, Justin Trudeau promised this budget would be balanced.

It’s not. But it’s not just the growing deficit.

It has no vision to deal with any potential economic downturn and, of course, no plan to deal with debt and deficits except adding more tax revenue – and burden on the backs of working people – via a new carbon tax.

The objective of Bill Morneau’s budget, however, was not to address the economic concerns of Canadians. It was focused on diverting attention away from the SNC-Lavalin story, and how the Prime Minister and his team was pressuring former Justice Minister Jody Wilson-Raybould to intervene and help the company avoid a criminal trial.

That conviction could bar SNC-Lavalin from bidding for government contracts, which the Liberals have been dishing out by the billions.

While the finance minister was briefing journalists about the budget, Liberal members of the Justice Committee were using their majority to stop the ‘investigation’ into SNC-Lavalin. The Liberals are willing to invest $41 billion of taxpayer money to change the discourse, which haunts them like the sponsorship scandal haunted one of their predecessors.

There is no mention of how to revive our energy sector, which can bring billions of dollars to help finance our health, education and other social programs. Having failed to provide leadership on the Trans Mountain pipeline, Trudeau instead has sunk $4.5 billion of taxpayer money to buy the project which a private company was going to build at no cost to Canadians.

There is no meaningful plan to work with municipalities and provinces to substantially increase the housing supply to bring prices down to make it affordable for new buyers. Band aid solutions will not solve the monstrous regulation regime strangling the supply chain of condos and homes.

Instead of lowering taxes to leave more money in the pockets of Canadians, middle-class working families actually pay more. They have raised payroll taxes, cancelled income splitting for families, halved tax-free saving accounts, and eliminated tax credits for public transit, tuition, textbooks, and children’s fitness and arts.

Instead, the carbon tax will result in higher prices for gas, groceries and other consumer items – presented as environmental policy.

In a similar fashion, intervention on behalf of SNC-Lavalin was also presented as job-saving policy, only in this case, neither the company nor anyone else can point to objective data.

There is no economic plan or any rationalization to continue to add the burden of deficits and debt onto future generations. But if we’re discussing it – and not discussing the SNC-Lavalin case – it has served its purpose.

The Liberals have certainly taken advice from author Craig Lounsbrough’s suggestion: “The shortest short-term investment is to serve ourselves.”

Dr. Shinder Purewal is a professor of political science at Kwantlen Polytechnic University, a regular political commentator, and the author of two books, Tandoori Democracy and Sikh Ethnonationalism and the Political Economy of Punjab. He lives in Surrey.

 


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