This week's federal budget includes new measures to promote gender equality, a significant boost in research funding and the beginnings of a pharmacare program — but not an end to deficit spending for the foreseeable future.
The Trudeau government tabled its third budget yesterday, titled "Equality + Growth." The federal finances are largely what was expected, with the government projecting an $18.1-billion deficit for the coming fiscal year, with no timeline for returning to a surplus. The government prefers to focus on the debt-to-GDP ratio, which is projected to continue to decrease to 28.4 per cent in 2022-23, from 30.4 per cent now.
The fiscal plan puts women front and centre. That includes a centerpiece of pay equity legislation, expected in the fall, but no dollar amount for implementing the law once it's in place. The budget also outlines new parental leave benefits to encourage a second parent — often a father — to take an extra five weeks off, though the measure is expected to be revenue neutral.
The budget also pours roughly half a billion dollars more into research funding, which amounts to the largest increase to fundamental science ever. But it's still nowhere near what was recommended last year by independent review into science funding, which called for an extra $1.3-billion.
Former Ontario health minister Eric Hoskins will chair an advisory council to study the prospect of a national pharmacare program. A 2016 Parliamentary Budget Office analysis concluded a national pharmacare program would actually save billions of dollars a year.
For more on what's in the budget, read our explainer outlining 12 things you need to know.
David Parkinson (The Globe and Mail) on deficits: "The boat for a return to a balanced budget in Ottawa has sailed. This government has no realistic route to get there – and frankly, it's not too worried about it. This budget cements that." (for subscribers)
Campbell Clark (The Globe and Mail) on a Liberal Orange Wave: "It's the NDP platform on a Liberal budget. Finance Minister Bill Morneau might as well have cherry-picked rubrics from the New Democrats' policy book, changed the wording and squeezed them into the few billions that could be spent without blowing up last year's deficit projections. In fact, that's pretty much what he did." (for subscribers)
Linda Nazareth (The Globe and Mail) on gender: "Looking at the budget through economist-eyes shows that the thing that most threatens the economic health of women is the same thing that threatens men: There is red ink as far as the eye can see."
André Picard (The Globe and Mail) on pharmacare: "Dr. Hoskins has his work cut out for him because the "path forward on pharmacare that puts Canadians first" that he is supposed to find is littered with financial and political land mines."
Rob Carrick (The Globe and Mail) on financial security: "It might be the blandest of the 25 or so budgets I have covered from the personal finance and business side. But the government has announced a couple of measures to help seniors worry a bit less about money, as well as a revamped tax break to help low-income workers."
Globe and Mail Editorial Board on the elephant not in the room: "Mr. Morneau is walking a fine line. He is right to note the irony that the loudest yelps for balancing the federal budget have come from some of the same people who are calling for corporate-tax cuts. Still, the fact is that the government is doing neither. Given the economic turbulence coming out of Washington, that's irresponsible."
Chantal Hebert (Toronto Star) on 2019: "All governments live by a clock. It typically starts ticking loudly in the third year of a majority mandate, when there is still time to put in place the structural elements of a re-election platform. The next-to-last Liberal budget of the current Parliament begins to lift the veil on the ruling party's pre-election mindset."
Susan Delacourt (iPolitics) on 2017: "Much of Budget 2018, in fact, can be seen as a look-back on lessons learned after a difficult, political year — for Finance Minister Bill Morneau in particular and Trudeau's Liberals in general."
Vicky Mochama (Metro News) on intersectionality: "For women whose lives are at the intersections, this budget is not making it rain. Dismissing the concerns of those groups or the gains of some women is the kind of thinking that has left women underpaid and overworked, men tired and distant, and politics as the territory of the columnist classes."
This is the daily Politics Briefing newsletter, written by Chris Hannay in Ottawa, Mayaz Alam in Toronto and James Keller in Vancouver. If you're reading this on the web or someone forwarded this email newsletter to you, you can sign up for Politics Briefing and all Globe newsletters here. Have any feedback? Let us know what you think.
Prime Minister Justin Trudeau says there is truth to one of his official's claims that factions within the Indian government may have been behind the presence of Jaspal Atwal at events in the country last week. Mr. Atwal was convicted in the 1980s of attempting to murder an Indian cabinet minister while he was visiting Canada. In the House of Commons, the Conservatives named national-security adviser Daniel Jean as the unnamed official mentioned in news reports as promoting the theory. "When one of our top diplomats and security officials says something to Canadians, it is because they know it to be true," Mr. Trudeau told the House.
B.C. is suspending rules designed to ensure the province's troubled public auto insurer has enough capital to cover claims, raising the potential for a government bailout. The government acknowledges that if the finances at the Insurance Corp. of B.C. deteriorate dramatically, the NDP government would have to step in and bail it out.
A B.C.-based criminologist says structural changes needed to clamp down on money laundering through private lending networks used by drug traffickers. That assessment follows a recent Globe and Mail investigation that identified people connected to the local fentanyl trade who are also private lenders, using Vancouver-area real estate to clean their cash.
A former mayor of Edmonton has been elected leader of the province's third-place Alberta Party. Stephen Mandel won on the first ballot to win the party, which has three seats in the legislature. The next election is in 2019.
"We cannot continue to lose that kind of money with one country. We lose a lot with Canada. People don't know it. Canada's very smooth: They have you believe that it's wonderful, and it is – wonderful for them. Not wonderful for us." That's how U.S. President Donald Trump has described Canada in recent days, escalating his rhetoric of Canada as manipulator when it comes to trade.
Vic Fedeli, interim leader of the Ontario Progressive Conservatives, says that his party is ready to move past Patrick Brown. "The last 10 days have been unprecedented in Ontario's politics. No one will question that it has been a difficult time for our party, but we are now ready to turn the page," Mr. Fedeli said. "Our party is bigger than one person."
The U.S. is consulting with auto companies about proposed manufacturing rules that have emerged at NAFTA talks. Detroit's Big 3, – Ford, GM and Chrysler – have been engaged in discussions with Washington over the future of the trilateral trade deal.
The names Josef Pwag and Ijong Tchoi may not be familiar to you, but the people who adopted those aliases will be. That's because North Korean leaders Kim Jong-un and Kim Jong-il used those identities in fraudulently obtaining Brazilian passports to apply for visas to Western countries, Reuters reports.
Russia compromised state websites or voter registration systems in seven states during the 2016 U.S. election campaign: Alaska, Arizona, California, Florida, Illinois, Texas and Wisconsin. Intelligence officials say that no voters were purged from rolls and that no votes were changed.
Jared Kushner, Mr. Trump's son in law and senior adviser, has lost his access to top-secret intelligence. Foreign officials from at least four countries have also explored how they can take advantage of Mr. Kusher by leveraging his business assets and debts.
France, Germany, the U.K. and the U.S. are condemning Iran for violating its arms embargo on Yemen. The four countries released a joint statement saying that non-compliance "poses serious risks to peace and stability in the region."
And Joseph Mifsud, the Maltese professor at the heart of the probe into collusion between the Trump campaign and Russia, bragged to his girlfriend that he was friends with Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov. His girlfriend, now the mother of his child, also says that she hasn't been able to find him since news of his alleged ties to Russia and the Trump campaign broke.
Penny Collenette (The Globe and Mail) on harassment legislation: "If we were not aware before of the sensitivity and emotional pain sexual harassment can cause, the #MeToo movement has revealed disgusting and disgraceful behaviour from powerful men in all sectors. It has also achingly revealed the secrets that many women have kept to themselves over decades. This legislation is only the beginning. Relationships within the entire supply chain of the political world need a revamped professionalism when it comes to harassment and the power imbalance that comes with political workplaces and lifestyles.."
Michael Adams (The Globe and Mail) on guns: "Guns are deeply embedded in American life and identity. They are enshrined in the Constitution – or at least in many Americans' and the Supreme Court's reading of the Second Amendment. According to Pew Research Center polls, three-quarters of gun owners (74 per cent) say owning a gun is essential to their personal freedom, and two-thirds (67 per cent) say they own a gun for protection. Guns are also deeply embedded in American culture. In U.S. cultural products, good guys kill bad guys with guns – whether they're in the Wild West, in U.S. cities, in foreign wars, or in outer space. My bet is that America in the years to come will continue to have a few gun-free zones, such as airplanes, sports stadiums and Republican Party conventions. But places explicitly free of guns – or 'soft targets' as U.S. President Donald Trump has framed them – will become fewer.."