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The Hill Update - April 22

Dean talks about the first Liberal budget in over two years and how they have created a deficit of a whopping $354-billion, while our national debt will soar to $1.4 trillion. Special guest is Michael Chong, the Conservative Member of Parliament for Wellington - Halton Hills.

The federal government finally released their long awaited budget after more than 2 years of delay.

Let’s keep in mind that every province and territory and every other G-7 country all produced budgets in the meantime – so our federal government was an anomaly. At 739 pages in length, the budget is 29% longer than the next longest budget issued in 2015. The budget takes more than 200 pages to describe its impact on gender equality, inclusion and other “quality of life” measures.

It introduces a skyrocketing deficit of a whopping $354-billion, while our national debt will soar to $1.4 trillion.

This is unprecedented by any measure.

"A fun fact about the 2021 budget – the Prime Minister has racked up more debt since being elected in 2015 than all other Canadians Prime Ministers since 1867 combined."

Don Martin, writing for CTV News called it a “super-spreader event for spending.” He went on to say that “Finance Minister Chrystia Freeland’s first budget had something everywhere for everyone who might conceivably enter the polling booth with Liberal-leaning inclinations.”

Many other commentators agree – The record amount of spending is a clear sign that the government wants to secure a majority in the next election. One of the big ticket items was a $30-billion allocation to kickstart what could become a $10-a-day child care program, similar in style and substance to the framework currently used in the province of Quebec.

The record amount of spending has no real outline of a strategy on how to rein in this spending and get it back under control. There is no plan to get Canada on path to a balanced budget – ever.

It’s difficult to fathom how the government can continue to spend over $150-billion a year more than it takes in.

Unless of course we’re in for a massive tax hike in the near future – or perhaps a sudden and severe plan for austerity which could impact virtually all social programs.

The government says that their spending isn’t a problem because of low-interest rates, which will allow them to maintain the government’s debt-to-GDP ratio at around 50% for the foreseeable future. Something to keep in mind – A healthy debt-to-GDP ratio is 27%.

Clearly, the government is very far from that target.

There have been suggestions that the budget is a fiscal house of cards built on the very shaky assumption the government can borrow cheap money forever.

A fun fact about the 2021 budget – the Prime Minister has racked up more debt since being elected in 2015 than all other Canadians Prime Ministers since 1867 combined.

It’s doubtful that this feat will be repeated in the future – it’s an achievement that will likely stay in the record books for a long, long time. Let’s put this record spending into context – the context of the current state of the economy.

Let’s start with a clear fact: The rebound in our economy has already started, and it started way before this budget outlined its spending frenzy.

Andrew Coyne, writing for the Globe and Mail says that “the budget talks of “kick-starting” the economy and “punching our way out of” the recession, [however the government’s] own figures show the downturn is already over.”

Some of you may remember that when the Finance Minister first outlined her spending strategy last November, the independent, non-partisan parliamentary budget officer, Yves Giroux, warned that the financial strategy the government was pursuing could result in too much government spending financed by debt too late to help economic recovery.

This seems to be what’s happening, leading many observers to see through the spending, calling it an election strategy to a future majority government.

Opposition Conservatives had this to say about the government’s budget:

- “Unemployed Canadians hoping to see a plan to create new jobs and economic opportunities for their families are going to feel let down.”

- “Workers who have had their wages cut and hours slashed hoping to see a plan to reopen the economy are going to feel let down.”

- “Families that can’t afford more taxes and are struggling to save more money for their children’s education or to buy a home are going to feel let down.”

Conservatives also claim that this is not stimulus spending focused on creating jobs, but spending on Liberal partisan priorities.We all know that the internet has been a revolutionary tool for the world. In 2021, it’s difficult to imagine our lives without it. That’s why discussions around its censorship are so sensitive. Recently, the federal government is once again looking into an internet censorship program through Bill C-10. This legislation would amend the Broadcasting Act to allow the Canadian Radio-television and Telecommunications Commission (CRTC) to regulate internet content.

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