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Prime Minister Justin Trudeau defended the larger deficit spending contained in this week’s federal budget, saying Canadians need help now to deal with the higher cost of living.

As he arrived Wednesday for the weekly Liberal caucus meeting, Mr. Trudeau was asked, in light of this week’s federal budget, about eliminating the deficit.

“I think people need to understand that this is a time where Canadians need that extra support,” Mr. Trudeau told journalists at the House of Commons.

Before departing for the caucus meeting, Mr. Trudeau said, given high food prices, that his government is bringing in significant supports for Canadians in need of help buying groceries, and talked about the government delivering on health care and dental care, and job creation.

However, the Prime Minister did not directly address the deficit issue he was asked about.

Ottawa Deputy bureau chief Bill Curry and reporter Mark Rendell report here that the federal government abandoned its timeline to balance the books within five years.

The fiscal year that begins April 1 is projected to show a $40.1-billion deficit, compared with a $30.6-billion forecast in the fall update. The government expects the deficit to shrink to $14-billion by 2027-28. It had previously forecast a small surplus for that year.

Later Wednesday, Conservative Leader Pierre Poilievre, asked about the budget at a Parliament Hill news conference, said “there has never been as much waste as what we’re seeing now.” Among other commitments, he criticized government spending on consultants, increased hiring of public servants, and costs related to gun control.

“These are savings that would be easy to make, and every time the government increases its spending by $1, it will have to find another dollar in savings.”

NDP Leader Jagmeet Singh, asked during a Parliament Hill news conference, about balancing the budget said it’s important for spending to be prudent. “We must respect public money,” he said.

The NDP leader said the NDP could have made different decisions than the Liberals, and denounced subsidies for oil companies, and tax loopholes he said allow benefits for certain individuals.

Among other 2023 budget files Wednesday:

-Slower economic growth and higher public spending are straining Ottawa’s bottom line, as the Liberal government’s 2023 budget announced billions in new spending on clean technology and an expanded national dental care program. Story here.

-Canada is lending another $2.4-billion to Ukraine to help the beleaguered country cope with the economic fallout from Russia’s military assault, bringing total support for Kyiv to more than $8-billion since the war began. Story here.

-A dental-care plan for up to nine million uninsured Canadians is costing almost twice as much as originally planned by the Liberal government, and now comes with an extra $7.3-billion price tag. Story here.

-From flood insurance to alcohol taxes. Details here on how the 2023 budget affects Canadians’ wallets

-Among budget announcements Tuesday is that Canadians can expect a grocery rebate this year, to help combat the rising cost of food as inflation remains high. Details here on the rebate.

-Seven key takeaways here from the federal budget, 2023.

BREAKING, IN ALBERTA - Alberta Premier Danielle Smith spoke to a pastor just weeks before his criminal trial on pandemic-related charges, promising she would again discuss his case with justice officials, beyond the earlier pleas she had already made on COVID-related prosecutions. Story here from CBC.

This is the daily Politics Briefing newsletter, written by Ian Bailey. 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.


BANK OF CANADA “READY TO ACT” ON U.S. BANKING TURMOIL: DEPUTY GOVERNOR - The Bank of Canada is “ready to act” if the banking sector turmoil in the U.S. spills across the border and hits Canadian financial institutions and markets, deputy governor Toni Gravelle said Wednesday. Story here.

FORD FACES OPPOSITION ON MINING DEVELOPMENT - Five First Nations communities are planning to stare down Doug Ford in Parliament Wednesday, alleging that Ontario’s Premier is railroading through mining development without their consent. Story here.

FINAL REPORT COMING ON MASS SHOOTING - On Thursday, the public inquiry into the 2020 mass shooting that claimed the lives of 22 people in rural Nova Scotia is set to release its final report. Story here.

FOREIGN HOME BUYER PLAN OVERHAULED - The federal government has overhauled its foreign home buyer ban to ensure that foreigners can buy and develop commercial real estate. Story here.

ANOTHER CANDIDATE ENTERS TORONTO MAYORAL RACE - Toronto city councillor Brad Bradford is running for mayor, arguing that the city is “at a breaking point” when it comes to safety and affordability. Story here.

COUNCILLOR RESIGNS OVER `MR. HITLER’ REMARK - A councillor from North Saanich, B.C., has resigned after referring to the mayor as “Mr. Hitler” during a council meeting. Story here.


TODAY IN THE COMMONS – Projected Order of Business at the House of Commons, March 29, accessible here.

MINISTERS ON THE ROAD - Natural Resources Minister Jonathan Wilkinson, in Berlin, attended the Berlin Energy Transition Dialogue 2023.


Prime Minister Justin Trudeau, in the Ottawa region, attended the national caucus meeting, and virtually participated in the Summit for Democracy 2023, delivering remarks at the Leader-level Plenary on Democracy Delivering Inclusion and Equality. Mr. Trudeau, accompanied by Finance Minister Chrystia Freeland, was also scheduled to meet with families at a local child-care centre to highlight affordability measures in the federal budget. The Prime Minister was also scheduled to hold a brief media scrum. Later he was scheduled to speak with Barbados Prime Minister Mia Motley.


Bloc Québécois Leader Yves-François Blanchet, was scheduled to hold a media scrum on the federal budget in the foyer of the House of Commons, accompanied by Finance Critic Gabriel Ste-Marie.

Conservative Party leader Pierre Poilievre, with Conservative Quebec Lieutenant Pierre Paul-Hus, in Ottawa held a press conference on Parliament Hill.

NDP Leader Jagmeet Singh, in Ottawa, delivered a keynote address to the NDP caucus ahead of their caucus meeting, and later spoke to reporters on Parliament Hill before attending Question Period.

No other leader schedules released.


On Wednesday’s edition of The Globe and Mail podcast, members of the Ottawa bureau - Deputy Ottawa bureau chief Bill Curry, personal finance columnist Rob Carrick, senior political reporter Marieke Walsh and senior Parliamentary reporter Steven Chase – join the podcast, five minutes at a time, to break down the key takeaways of this year’s budget. The Decibel is here.


Saskatchewan legislature members remembered their former friend and colleague Derek Meyers, a member of the legislature since 2020, after the 45-year-old died of cancer. Story here.


ALBERTA POLITICS - As a provincial election looms in Alberta, new research by the Angus Reid Institute suggests that the United Conservative Party has a seven-point lead in vote intention over the provincial NDP. Details here.


The Globe and Mail Editorial Board on the Trudeau Liberals building a budget on a cloud, and collective amnesia: “The federal Liberals have gone to some length to position the budget tabled on Tuesday as a document of fiscal restraint, touting plans to constrain the cost of government through wide-ranging spending reviews. The budget points to $15.6-billion in savings, a declining deficit and an easing of the debt burden relative to the economy. Indeed, Finance Minister Chrystia Freeland described Tuesday’s budget, her third, as an effort in line with Canada’s “proud tradition of fiscal responsibility.” That is all a fiscal fantasy: the Liberal budget is built on a cloud of sleight-of-hand projections and the hope that Canadians are suffering from collective amnesia.”

Campbell Clark (The Globe and Mail) on how the heartbeat of Finance Minister Chrystia Freeland’s budget is green tech subsidies: “There were a few things Chrystia Freeland had to do in her 2023 budget and one thing she really wanted to do. That one thing the Finance Minister really wanted to do was to pour billions into green-technology subsidies. And she did: The investment tax credits will amount to $80-billion over the next decade. And there will be other things, too.”

Andrew Coyne (The Globe and Mail) on how, if the government wanted to strangle economic growth, this is the budget it would produce: The most arresting chart in last year’s budget was the one showing projected economic growth rates in the member countries of the OECD over the next 40 years. In last place: Canada. At last, we all thought: the Trudeau government had belatedly recognized Canada has a growth problem. Having fixated almost exclusively throughout its first seven years on redistributing income, perhaps it had now been persuaded of the importance of making some. True, Budget 2022 offered little in the way of new ideas to that end, but give it time. Rome wasn’t rethought in a day. Well, here we are, a year later, and plainly the government has been doing a lot of hard thinking in the interim. Sadly, it has not been thinking about the economy.”

Merran Smith and Trevor Melanson (Contributed to The Globe and Mail) on how most oil jobs will vanish by 2050 – that’s why the federal budget’s clean-energy stimulus is vital: With its half-a-trillion dollars in clean-energy incentives, the U.S. Inflation Reduction Act threatens to siphon away similar investments from other countries, including Canada. In the face of this reality, the substantial industry incentives in Tuesday’s budget are not just a welcome development but also a vital one. That’s because this country’s resource-fixated economy is changing. Canada’s oil and gas lobby is right about one thing: There is indeed a bright future for Canadian energy. It’s just not in fossil fuels.”


Justin Ling (Contributed to The Globe and Mail) on how Mark Saunders’s record as Toronto’s police chief shows he doesn’t deserve a promotion to mayor: “Toronto needs to have a conversation about its police force, which seems determined to set its own priorities instead of listening to the citizens they serve. But Mr. Saunders’s candidacy need not be a referendum on policing writ large. Voters should reject Mr. Saunders not because he was chief of police, but because he was a bad chief of police. Voters may look wearily at a crowded field of imperfect candidates, and may gravitate to the name of the cop they recognize, especially as headlines focus on a perceived rise in violence. But listen to the communities who remember his time as chief: Mr. Saunders is uniquely ill-equipped to be mayor.”

Stephen Saideman (Contributed to The Globe and Mail) on how culture change isn’t a distraction from Canadian military effectiveness: While much of the focus around the meeting between U.S. President Joe Biden and Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau has centred on the deal to close Roxham Road to asylum seekers, the President’s trip to Ottawa was also an opportunity to discuss another major issue: the humanitarian crisis in Haiti. But despite pressure from Washington for Canada to lead an intervention force there, it is clear – based on comments from Mr. Trudeau and from General Wayne Eyre, Canada’s Chief of the Defence Staff – that Ottawa is not going to do as the U.S. requests. Instead, the federal government announced a $100-million investment into the Haitian National Police this weekend.”

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