Tuesday, January 27, 2009

Do We Care About The Budget?

Today, the Conservative Party (of Canada) announced the details of its proposed budget. Parliament's vote on this bill will determine not only the fate of a deficit building plan, but also a vote on whether the current government will remain intact. (Image: CBC) This budget represents the tipping point for Canadian politics in two areas, as mentioned in my introduction: one area being the fate of Canada's profitability and the second being the fate of this government. I think it's important to consider these two aspects in order to weigh what is going on with this vote.

While Canada has been chipping away at its national debt for several years, this new budget puts Canada into the red for the first time since the mid-1990s. Canada has avoided falling into a deficit during hard economic times until this budget, so the question becomes what is different now and how could it have been avoided.

I can't help but wonder what type of effect lowering of the GST from 7% to 5% has had on this deficit budget. Perhaps a deficit could have been avoided or lessened if those measures had not been taken. Sure, it may have won the Conservatives a few votes to make this promise to lower the GST, but it's concerning to think that they picked getting elected over keeping the country profitable.

The other issue is the choice of the rest of parliament as to whether this government will continue to exist or if this is the last straw for the Conservative minority. If it is the last straw they need to decide whether to form a coalition government led by the Liberals and NDP or whether to go to an election. I wish to make two points on the issue of a coalition.

The first is that it is entirely normal throughout the world for coalition governments to form. The reaction of some Canadians, inspired by Conservative advertising, to see this as undemocratic is extremely inaccurate. What is even more offensive to the intelligence of our citizens is the claims by the Conservative party that the coalition endorses the Quebec separation because the Bloc Quebecois supports the coalition. This is insulting because it was the Conservatives who used the Bloc to help topple the Liberals and set jn motion the Conservatives grab for power.

The second point I want to make about the coalition is that this group will bring stability for the remainder of a full-term. The government will not be toppled nor can it dissolve. This stability could bring the leadership needed to provide Canada with a steady set of goals and values moving forward. This could be invaluable.

So while the budget itself is important, it seems most of the debate surrounding it has nothing to do with the majority of its content, but more to do with the principles at stake. If there is to be a coalition government formed, I hope that they form that government soon and do not drag out the process. The looming threat of such a force is disruptive if there are no real plans to act.