Saturday August 30, 2014

QUESTION OF THE WEEK

Survey results are meant for general information only, and are not based on recognised statistical methods.




An uneventful budget

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Canadians who were expecting a federal budget filled with a spending spree or dramatic cuts that would create a buzz were disappointed.

It didn't generate the excitement of a Canadian performance on the moguls at the Sochi Winter Olympics. Rather, it was as bland and predictable as a Canada versus Switzerland game in women's hockey.

We knew that it wasn't going to be a balanced budget, although the deficit, at $3 billion, is fairly small when you consider the size of the budget. The Tories have targeted 2015 as the year in which they'll balance the budget (right in time for the next federal election), and they're on track to do that.

This budget contains most of the items that you would expect from a Tory budget. Government spending was cut once again. The Tories have been steadily reducing spending in the last few years, and while it's not an austerity budget, it certainly fits Conservative ideology.

As long as the spending cuts are in the right areas, there's nothing wrong with reduced government spending, and a slimmer, trimmer government.

It's not good news for the public sector unions, who don't want to hear that there isn't much money available for negotiations. But many Canadians are happy to hear that the government is spending less money.

It would be nice if the budget would do more for the Department of National Defence, or for Veteran's Affairs. It would have been nice if the government would have flip-flopped on its decision to close nine Veteran's Affairs offices.

And the budget likely would have received a warmer reception if there would have been additional funding for municipalities. Not only are cities, towns and villages facing an infrastructure deficit, but they need more help on the social housing front.

Pundits are also skeptical whether the National Job Grant will take off, and create the jobs that the Tories are promising. After all, the job grant received lots of hype last year, too, and it has yet to deliver.

There are some bright spots in the budget's footnotes. One of Canada's most draconian laws will finally be repealed. Canadians will legally be able to transport beer across provincial boundaries, as long as provincial governments agree to allow the alcohol to be transported.

And here's more good news: regulations will be eased on craft beer companies. Taxes will increase on cigarettes, as the government tries to encourage more people to butt out.

The government also continued with its people-pleasing battle for consuming rights, and its war on the big phone companies. They introduced a cap on domestic wireless roaming rates. And they'll clarify rules for a wireless spectrum auction intended to bring more competition for Canadians yearning for new options.

Search and rescue volunteers will get a much-deserved tax credit, too.

It's a bland budget, but at least there's some good news, and enough omissions to generate some discussion.

 


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