Budget 2004: One Canadian’s viewpoint

03.23.04

Paul Martin’s finance minister, Ralph Goodale, announced the Federal Budget today. And of course, the media began to immediately analyse, spin, and dissect it seventeen ways from Sunday.

So here’s my ten-second breakdown.

Healthcare: Mainly a provincial issue, but very little new money to help bail out the provinces. Instead of spending it on medicare or on, oh, important stuff like equipment, doctors and nurses, and patient care, the government’s gonna create yet another useless level of bureaucracy, this one to address “public health” (like the SARS crisis). Never mind that there are hundreds of times more people needing everyday healthcare. But it seems that there can never be enough levels of waste for the Libs.

Taxes: Breaks for small businesses and aid for venture capital financing. Both good things. Nothing much for big business (cause, of course, the Liberals can’t be seen to be getting too cozy with the devil). Oh, and a big chunk of cash to find “environmentally-friendly technologies”. I guess that’s the only way a Liberal government can fund business. Anyway the most important question is how much more of my own money will I get to keep on each paycheck. The answer? Not a whole helluvalot. Thumbs down.

National Debt: A commitment to pay it down considerably. This is good. The people don’t always see the debt as a priority, but reducing the debt means reducing interest payments, and that can only help the economy. Let’s see if the government keeps this promise. (Echoes of the “we will cancel the GST” promise sounding in anyone else’s ears?)

Defence: Peacekeeping only. Money for missions in Afghanistan and Haiti. Oh, and a throwaway gesture that says that troops don’t have to pay tax on earnings while deployed abroad. Nothing that could be perceived as Bush-cozying or war-mongering. Heaven forbid Canadian troops get planes that don’t need to be held together with duct tape!

Education: Also a provincial area. Textbooks are now deductible for students. And “learning bonds” to give minuscule amounts of money to low-income students… in about 18 years or so. That’s about it.

Stupid Liberal Wastes of Money: Refreshingly few. Of course, these are usually the small-ticket throwaways that may not have hit the headlines yet. I’m keeping my eyes peeled for a “multiculturalism fund” or a “help the CBC produce more aboriginal-related programming” fund increase. Excuse me while I roll my eyes.

Miscellany: Money for farmers hit by mad cow. Yeah, ok, that one sucked for them. And I certainly wouldn’t want to have to grow my own food, so I guess we can throw them some bones.

Overall: It’s balanced, so that’s good. It’s not excessive with a bunch of stupid spending to buy votes. So that’s also good. But not enough of the fat has been trimmed, and not enough of taxpayers’ money is being put back into taxpayers’ pockets. That about sums it up for me.

Update: Paul has a one-word summary of the budget: YAWN.

{ 1 comment… read it below or add one }

1 Paul Jané 03.24.04 at 4:59 AM

A much better summary than mine… 🙂

(Thanks for the link nonetheless, Sari. :))

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