Now that the chatter over the federal budget has tapered off, I’ll add my two cents worth. As a conservative, I give the budget a failing grade. As a Conservative Party supporter, however, I’d say it’s about as good as we were likely to get. Simply put, no Tory minority government is ever going to be able to get a budget passed that is anything like what the party’s base will cheer about.
There are those who believe the Tories should put forward a conservative agenda and let the opposition deal with it. And they could be right. After all, the consensus seems to be that neither the Liberals nor the New Democrats relish a trip to the polls at this time and just might swallow a budget laced with bitter pills. I’d be concerned, though, that those bitter pills will be viewed as poison pills, and the opposition will balk at allowing such a budget to pass.
As we saw in the fall of 2008, there are limits beyond which the opposition parties will not be pushed. Give them a couple of meaty issues around which to spin their Paul Martin-like scare tactics and Tory-hidden-agenda nonsense, and they are likely to screw up their courage and face the nation with a renewal their oft repeated promise of some form of national, universal daycare. Though even such a seductive offer to voters may not be enough to overcome their tepid support for Liberal leader Michael Ignatieff as prime minister.
I had hoped to see a stronger signal that we intend to shrink the reach and cost of government, but wasn’t really surprised that there wasn’t one. If something is not done to significantly and quickly reduce program spending, we risk returning to the pre-1992 era of seemingly unrestrained government spending that saw the size of government in Canada, measured in terms of total spending at all levels of government as a share of gross domestic product (GDP), peak at an astounding 53 per cent. [Source]
It would be a shame if that were to happen, and an even greater shame if it happened on Prime Minister Stephen Harper’s watch.
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© 2010 Russell G. Campbell
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