Liberals could have charted the path to freedom...
posted October 1997
For years the Liberal Party has claimed the odious reputation of being
chiefly responsible for overspending and the massive debt that Canada
has burdened itself with for nearly three decades.
On September 23 Canada's governing party had a chance to reverse that
image, or at least begin to change it for the better. It had the opportunity
to announce that in a few years time, it would begin freeing the citizens
of its country from an onerous debt.
For the first time in years the Throne Budget became more than a useless
pomp and circumstance from another era, but actually provided a real indication
of when Canadians would begin charting the course towards fiscal responsibility.
Unfortunately for both Canadians and future generations of Canadians,
what we got to see was the same old Liberal Party. Tax and spend, spend
Rather than begin paying off a debt which has spiraled out of control
since the first deficit in 1968, the federal government announced that
it would indeed balance the budget, but it refused to say when work on
the debt and when any future tax breaks would come. With good reason.
The government announced in the throne speech that the deficit - which
stood at $42-billion four years ago - will be wiped out sometime in the
next 18 months, and that Finance Minister Paul Martin may soon give a
more specific date for its elimination.
"...assuming current trends remain, the fiscal dividend will
be a few billion dollars at first, hitting $5-billion in 2001 and then
about $15-billion in 2005. then the numbers get truly staggering. ...even
allowing for 3 per cent growth in program spending each year, Ottawa could
be in a position in 15 years to reduce personal income taxes by 75 per
cent or hike program spending 50 per cent." -- Sunday Star, September 14, 1997
Instead of further progress, the Prime Minister started a spending spree.
Days after Prime Minister Jean Chrétien's Throne Speech, he revealed his
$1-billion plan for a personal political legacy for the new millennium
- a massive scholarship fund for students from poor families. The fund
will be "another dividend" of the elimination of the federal
deficit, and details will be provided after Finance Minister Paul Martin
provides an update on Canada's fiscal situation in mid-October.
Chrétien made his announcement in the Commons during his statement on
the throne speech, just moments after vowing that "we will never,
never again allow the finances of the country to get out of control."
Chrétien made it clear he sees the fund as his personal political legacy.
Bully for him.
The government is already committed, under a deal with the provinces,
to $850-million in federal tax credits for poor families. It reiterated
that it will eventually double that amount, but made no promises beyond
working with the provinces to establish a timetable.
Similarly, a "children's agenda" promised in the Liberal platform
for the June 2 election will be put together in collaboration with the
COMPAS poll regarding attitudes to
September 27, 1997
51 per cent of respondents want a tax cut
28 per cent want a personal tax cut
20 per cent believe that both personal and business taxes should
Among the commitments are establishment of federal "centres of excellence"
to conduct research on child development and an expansion of the current
aboriginal head start program for kids on native reserves.
No price tags were attached to either program in the throne speech. But
the campaign platform called for $20-million in spending on the research
centres and $25-million on the head start initiative.
On the medicare front, the government will bring in legislation entrenching
a campaign promise to stabilize health funding for the provinces at $12.5-billion
a year. That means, in effect, forgoing a planned $6-billion in cuts that
would have taken effect over the next few years.
And if all that wasn't enough, the government also announced a massive
increase in Canada Pension Plan contributions to "save" the
program, projected to go bankrupt in about twenty years without a massive
infusion of funds. Children will be paying for adults for decades.
So within hours of promising a continued responsible approach, the federal
government hammered Canadians with billions of dollars in new spending.
Instead of forging a path to a Canada with a smaller government and more
money in the pockets of everyone, the Liberal government has once again
thrown itself on the path of collectivism. Seemingly emboldened by the
election of leftists in France and England this year, the Liberal government
has once again occupied its traditional position of left of centre in
the Canadian political scene.
The only losers are the Canadians who voted Liberal in June to reward
them for their conservative fiscal approach, and who expected the work
But some of us weren't fooled by the vague talk of tax cuts. Some of us
knew that the purse strings would come back out.
Once again, Canadians have received the government they deserved. Hopefully
it won't cost them too dearly.
Thanks for reading, Gord Gekko
The improvements at Enter Stage Right continue. You may have
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