Hopes of Fiscal Responsibility Remain Dashed With Liberals’ New Budget

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Nobody expected an austerity budget from the Liberal government this year, thus nobody was terribly surprised to see spending go almost $90 billion higher in the 2022 budget than it was in the pre-pandemic 2019 budget. Balanced budgets and fiscal restraint have never been priorities for the Trudeau government.

One can learn a lot about the goals and priorities of the Liberal government by sifting through the 304-page budget document. There is a lot of word salad packed in there as the finance department pats itself on the back with fluffy statements. Doing word searches in the release helps get to where the priorities really are.

The word “housing” appears 231 times in the budget. This isn’t surprising as the government is determined to make affordable housing the focus of the budget this year. Housing is a need and every Canadian is feeling the pinch due to inflation.

Seventeen pages in the budget are dedicated to housing issues along with a commitment to spend a staggering $72 billion on housing in the next 6 years. That the expenditure of $72 billion will exacerbate inflationary pressures even further appears to be lost on the finance department, however.

The focus on housing is more political than economic. The Liberals need feel-good policies and nothing feels better than thinking we can safely ensure nobody is homeless whether the policies actually work or not.

Speaking of inflation, while that issue is top of mind for most Canadians it only appeared a mere 86 times in the budget. The word “inflation” was almost always accompanied by the word “global” which appears 136 times. That is because while the budget acknowledges inflation as being a problem, the document is focused on making excuses for it rather than addressing it.

The government views inflation as a global concern that is out of its ability to address and goes out of its way to blame the Russia-Ukraine conflict for it. They refuse to accept the growth of domestic government debt as a factor. It’s always somebody else’s fault.

The word climate was mentioned 109 times. That is down from the 210 times it was mentioned in the 2021 budget.

While it’s pretty clear that Prime Minister Trudeau wants his legacy to reflect his battle against climate change, it appears the government realizes that people are now more concerned about paying their bills than about global temperatures potentially rising half a degree in a few decades.

That said, there is still a myriad of policies at the cost of billions packed into the budget dedicated to fighting climate change. The government just isn’t going as far out of their way as usual to highlight it.

Energy is only mentioned 63 times though the exploding cost of it is one of the primary drivers of inflation. It is one of the few areas where the government appears to be lost for words. They know we need to generate more energy, but never want to admit that it would require the production of more oil and gas which were mentioned 32 and 24 times respectively.

Oil and gas revenues have helped fill government coffers this year by quite a bit. They would prefer to kick that can down the road for now.

In 2018, the budget mentioned “gender” no less than 358 times. Virtue signalling on social justice issues was a high priority in the pre-pandemic days. In the 2022 budget gender only comes up a mere 18 times.

That didn’t stop the government from dipping into the absurd, however, as they announced a strategy to spend $25 million on a “menstrual equity fund.” Never mind dealing with the cost of living or reducing debt. What shall we do about the plight of the transgendered people and ensure their unfettered access to tampons?

The word “tax” is mentioned 373 times but rarely with regard to reducing it. They will be imposing a new home-flipping tax along with increasing carbon, payroll, and alcohol taxes.

The word “debt” is mentioned 128 times but there doesn’t appear to be any plan to reduce it. The path to balanced budgets and reduced debt has yet to be firmly established. Meanwhile, Canadians will be on the hook for over $2 billion per month in interest payments on our current national debt. Just wait until interest rates rise.

The 2022 budget tells the tale of a government determined to tax, borrow and spend a nation into prosperity while taking care of pet social justice projects along the way. One always holds out hope that a sense of fiscal responsibility may creep into the government. It has happened before. This year those hopes remain dashed.

Views expressed in this article are the opinions of the author and do not necessarily reflect the views of The Epoch Times.

Cory Morgan

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Cory Morgan is a columnist based in Calgary.



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