Finance Minister Jim Flaherty released his latest budget this week, promising to slash the deficit by the middle of the decade without putting the burden on Canada's middle class.
We asked you for your thoughts on the latest fiscal blueprint and you responded almost immediately. Some were critical of the plan. Others thought the Harper government did well in the wake of the global economic crisis.
We have pulled together a handful of your comments on the budget on a number of themes. As always, a full list of your thoughts - and some fairly heated debate among our readers - can be found in the comment section itself.
Please take a look and continue the discussion in the days ahead. Also on this page, you will find our audio comment tool. Feel free to use it to let us know what you think.
Jobs - some of you felt the budget didn't go far enough to address the:
- The Prime Minister prorogued parliament for this budget! What a joke! He's done nothing for the people out of work! Looks to me like the Prime Minister just wanted to attend the Olympics and have his face in the papers and on TV
- Its a hodgepodge of policies. How did they come up with it, by asking everyone to throw in their favourite idea/recommendation into a hat?
- What is there to think about? This is a do-nothing budget. What I would like to hear is what exactly they were doing while the rest of us were at work in January and February?
- I hope they don't get paid for sitting idle.
- Why didn't Harper just photocopy last year's budget? A few changes here and there and we're all done! It's a laugh to hear the expenditure growth will be the lowest in 16 years considering last year was a record for spending. The should be trumpeting spending less than last year!
Others thought the sitting government did well with what it had to work with:
- I am not a huge Harper fan (but not an Iggy fan either), however it looks good to me. I would have liked to see some incentives for startups and investors in startups, but overall I think it's shows Canada is a stable country that is willing to dig itself out of debt. Hard to say that of other places in the world.
- Canada, coming through the recession, is in the best condition of any of the western nations. I'm not one to sanction debt, but you don't want to pull the plug on stimuli too quickly. Canada is in a great position to advance itself economically among its peers.
- Well, considering that the current recession could have been much, much worse, and a lot of us were expecting it to be, and it still could be... But, you know, collectively the world's politicians did a not entirely horrible job of keeping this teetering economy sort-of working...Overall, I'd say I'm grudgingly impressed. Things could be worse. So, I'll hold off on the bitingly sarcastic condemnations of this budget. I'll wait and see (still won't vote for 'em though).
Government pay freezes, closing tax loopholes, deficit reduction - some readers were skeptical:
- 'They will freeze the salaries of the prime minister, ministers, members of Parliament and senators'.
What a joke that is, After the freeze is over they will receive even larger salary increases to cover loss of income during the pay freeze. Watch and see!
- This was an event? What I heard was in a minor key and whispered and leaked for many weeks prior to the "announcement". The sequestered reporters must have felt severely pained to miss opportunities to have genuine inquiry. Even some of the encouragement I will hold my breath to see if it is just more talk - closing tax loopholes, extra in EI benefits and freeze on rates - but I don't get what all the extra time for prorogation was all about. Maybe they talked about the new words for the national anthem. Ho hum maybe it's better to have no government than bad government. Wait a minute ....
- These people are fools, anyone who believes a government, any government can forecast 5 years ahead is living in fairy land. This deficit will not be reduced unless taxes are increased, preferably reinstating the G.S.T. but I'm sure it will be impossible for Harper to admit it was irresponsible fiscal policy. A prerequisite of any GOOD leader is to govern for what's good for Canada and Canadians, Harper just not carry this D.N.A. to admit an mistake.
- A definite thumbs down to this budget just more debt with no plan as to how to get out and don't give me that line that the economy will grow I personally believe that we will actually shrink the economy over the next number of years not to mention the fact that we cannot predict catastrophic events .If we had some real innovation in this budget that addressed the infrastructure ,manufacturing and environment then maybe this budget would have hope of success.
The politics of the budget:
- I sadly suspect that Harper's people have polled just a few Canadians (...) on this issue and are probably correct that those who would have major issues with the budget are those who have never voted, and likely will never vote, for the Conservatives. No money for daycare? It's ok, we got the votes we need in Anglo-Canada where there is no real expectation of a subsidized daycare system, and in Quebec, where we need votes, the province provides it anyway. The environment? Most Canadians still prefer their pocketbook to the environment (otherwise wouldn't we all be buying hybrids instead of doing the calculations that in the long run they still don't justify the difference in cost?), and those who are actually willing to incur personal financial costs in favour of the environment are likely NDP or Liberal voters anyway. Public servants? All Liberals anyway (at least according to Harper, and he's probably right) and they are concentrated in one or two ridings near Ottawa (Liberal) so won't actually sway the vote much even if some votes did swing as a result.
I am a public servant who lives in Quebec (because of subsidized daycare that isn't offered in Ontario) and I have always voted Liberal. I am exactly the person that Harper thinks is a lost cause, and he's right. For the rest of the available swing-voting Canadians who think that public servants are lazy pencil pushers who don't deserve their salaries anyway, who have learned to live with the absence of national daycare, and for whom the environment is not more important than finances, this budget is likely exactly what they want. And that's what Harper knows-- whether I like it or not. He is going after the fiscally conservative Liberal swing voters and he will get a few: the Liberals will be forced closer to the NDP, losing their right to the Conservatives and splitting the left with the NDP. Don't like him, but I can't say he isn't politically savvy.
The GST and its potential role in deficit reduction continued to spark debate on both sides of the issue:
- It's funny that we've been hearing all about the HST and how that change will increase the tax paid. We've heard it's just a "tax grab" for the government. Then when the budget comes out, all of a sudden everybody is worried about the deficit, and I'm actually reading in posts that the taxes need to be increased? One poster even mentioned reinstating the GST! Why would the government care that much about what all of the people say about them. It wouldn't matter what they did, everyone would still be upset.
- Just raise the GST by 1 point and be done with it. We are at more risk having a deficit in turbulent times than we are on paying .02 more for a loaf of bread.
(Note: Comments used in this list have been printed as posted. However, spelling has been corrected and, in some cases, where words have accidentally been repeated, small edits have been made.)
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