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Politics Politics Briefing: Budget day is here. What to expect

Good morning,

It’s Federal Budget Day.

For Finance Minister Bill Morneau and the Liberals, it’s more like the first step in the march toward Election Day.

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With their re-election hopes front of mind, the Liberals’ budget is expected to target millennials and baby boomers: the two large generations who will likely shape the outcome of the 2019 federal campaign.

When Canadians head to the polls this time around, baby boomers will no longer be the largest cohort of potential voters. Millennials (Canadians born between 1980 and 2000) will take that title – making up about 36 per cent of eligible voters, up sharply from 29 per cent in the last federal election.

For the younger generation, expect the budget to contain some moves designed to make housing more affordable. For older Canadians, advocates are calling for private pension protection measures, improved support for low-income seniors and policies to reduce the cost of prescription drugs.

Here are five things to watch for when Mr. Morneau tables the latest spending plan sometime around 4 p.m. ET today (full coverage at tgam.ca):

What’s the deficit? During the 2015 election campaign, the Liberals promised a return to balance by 2019. That did not happen. The government’s most recent projection for the 2019-20 fiscal year is a $19.6-billion deficit.

The House and housing: Mr. Morneau has said the government is looking at how to help millennials afford homes as prices have surged from coast-to-coast during the Liberals’ tender. The big question is whether the government can find a way to do this without just sending prices even higher.

Morneau’s medicine: One of last year’s major budget announcements was the formation of a panel looking into the feasibility of a national prescription-drug program. Expect some new pharmacare details.

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Support for seniors: More Canadians are working well into their retirement years. The government will likely look for measures to ease the burden. The Canadian Association of Retired Persons has pressed the government to eliminate mandatory minimum withdrawal rules for Registered Retirement Income Funds (RRIFs), for example.

Focus on skills: For younger folks, the budget is expected to include money to study abroad. For older folks, expect new measures aimed at helping full-time workers boost their job skills.

This is the daily Politics Briefing newsletter, written by Aron Yeomanson. It is available exclusively to our digital subscribers. If you’re reading this on the web, subscribers can sign up for the Politics newsletter and more than 20 others on our newsletter signup page. Have any feedback? Let us know what you think.

TODAY’S HEADLINES

Michael Wernick, Canada’s top bureaucrat and a key player in the SNC-Lavalin controversy is resigning as Clerk of the Privy Council.

Prime Minister Justin Trudeau named veteran Liberal MP Joyce Murray the new President of the Treasury Board on Monday, filling the vacancy left by former cabinet minister Jane Philpott.

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A star witness who orchestrated kickback and bribery schemes for SNC-Lavalin Group Inc. has testified a former company CEO and icon of corporate Quebec approved the purchase of a yacht for the son of Libyan dictator Moammar Gadhafi.

Vice-Admiral Mark Norman’s defence team took aim at the Department of Justice in an Ottawa court Monday, accusing the department of tweeting inaccurate information about the court’s proceedings.

Canada is extending its military missions in Ukraine and Iraq.

Jason Kenney says there was nothing improper or even unusual about staff on his successful 2017 campaign to lead Alberta’s United Conservative Party helping out a rival.

Alberta’s governing New Democrats are planning to table new measures to strengthen health care and the province’s democratic institutions in a spring session of the legislature.

Independent MPP Randy Hillier is blaming backroom operatives for his recent ouster from the Progressive Conservative caucus.

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Former prime minister Brian Mulroney apologized Monday for using the term “little girl” to refer to an Ontario politician.

New Zealand Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern said she will announce new gun laws within days.

The speaker of Britain’s House of Commons dealt a potentially fatal blow to Prime Minister Theresa May’s ailing Brexit deal.

Beto O’Rourke raised more than US$6.1-million within 24 hours of announcing his candidacy for the 2020 Democratic presidential nomination.

French Prime Minister Emmanuel Macron said Paris’s police chief had been sacked and that the government would shut down “yellow vest” protests if violent groups were identified among the ranks.

And ... The Globe and Mail dominated the National Newspaper Awards’ shortlist with 20 nominations for its work, including a nomination in the Politics category. Reporters Robert Fife, Steven Chase, Sean Silcoff and Christine Dobby are nominated for their coverage of Huawei’s expansion plans in Canada. In addition, Chris Hannay – who you might know as the usual author of Politics Briefing – and Daniel Leblanc are nominated in the Arts and Entertainment category for an investigation into the National Gallery of Canada’s attempted sale of a Marc Chagall work.

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Campbell Clark (The Globe and Mail) on Michael Wernick’s resignation: “If this is Prime Minister Justin Trudeau’s way of putting the SNC-Lavalin affair behind him, and making everybody forget Jody Wilson-Raybould, he’s making a mess in the process.”

Christie Blatchford (National Post) on Wernick’s resignation: “It was an ignominious finale to a 37-year career in the public service that saw Wernick hold senior executive positions in governments of Liberal and Conservative stripes and culminated in him taking over as clerk in 2016.”

Gary Mason (The Globe and Mail) on Jason Kenney and the Alberta election: “Mr. Kenney can’t be allowed to avoid answering the serious questions this sordid affair raises about his behaviour.”

The Globe and Mail Editorial Board on progress at the border: “Now we’re in an election year, and the Liberals are suddenly prepared to put an end to irregular border crossings. In politics, timing is everything.”

Barbara Yaffe (The Globe and Mail) on Brexit: “Brits are having a collective nervous breakdown over their Brexit mess. They should have heeded a crucial lesson taught by Canada back in the nineties about profound political votes.”

Ashley Nunes (CBC News) on the grounding of Boeing 737 Max jets: “Canadians deserve better. When it comes to public safety, Ottawa should lead rather than follow. This means implementing an aircraft certification standard that doesn’t just acquiesce to the U.S.”

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