In the News March 30
In the Parliament
Federal Budget Date Announced in
Another Dog and Pony Show
Finance Minister Chrystia Freeland, who also serves as Deputy Prime Minister, in answer to a question from a Liberal Party backbencher during Question period, has announced that the 2022 Federal Budget will be presented on Thursday, April 7. It was announced in another dog and pony show which points to another highly promoted, over-staged performance designed “to sway or convince opinion for political, or less often, commercial ends. Typically, the term is used in a pejorative sense to connote disdain, jocular lack of appreciation, or distrust of the message being presented or the efforts undertaken to present it.” This has become the stock-in-trade of the Liberal government where the House of Commons has become no more than a façade for rule by executive power and privilege. Such a performance over serious matters of the economy is integral to the aim of disinformation. The aim is to disarm working people who do not believe that what is being done is for their benefit but do not always see the necessity to get together to devise tactics which will give them a say over the direction of the economy.
The question posed by the Liberal backbencher during Question Period was to ask when the budget will be delivered. It was preceded by scripted remarks about how “the budget will showcase our Canadian government’s plan to support Canadians and to grow our economy.”
Freeland replied, “Our government was re-elected on a commitment to grow our economy, make life more affordable and to continue building a Canada where nobody gets left behind. That is exactly what we are doing and that is what we are going to continue to do in our budget which I will present on April 7, 2022 at 4:00 p.m.”
This announcement was followed by an inordinately long standing ovation by the Liberal caucus. Why an announcement that a budget will be tabled requires a prolonged standing ovation is as incomprehensible as it is reprehensible.
It will be released the day before the House of Commons breaks for its two-week Easter holiday, returning on April 25. The cynicism of the government and media know no bounds, thus the Globe and Mail noted that the timing of the budget “will limit the opposition’s ability to immediately question [Chrystia Freeland and Justin Trudeau] on its content.” Neither are typically in the House on Fridays, the newspaper pointed out.
To get the full impact of the announcement, select media were made privy to the “reveal.” A CBC pre-scripted report was posted moments after the announcement, but it lacked the final edit. Its posting informed that, “Freeland announced the date of the budget during question period on XXX, in keeping with tradition.” It stayed on line for about 15 minutes before the date of March 29 was inserted. CBC commented that “Two years into the COVID-19 pandemic, expectations are high about the vision the budget will offer to Canadians about the path ahead.”
NDP Leader Jagmeet Singh, who just recently signed a Supply and Confidence Agreement to ensure the Liberals have a majority in the House, told the media that the budget would be the “next big step” that determines how their agreement with the Liberals unfolds. Of course, budgets entail votes of confidence so we can presume that all the backroom dealing has been conducted to ensure that the budget is passed. The text of the Agreement states that it “lasts until Parliament rises in June 2025, allowing four budgets to be presented by the government during this time.” It stipulates that “the NDP agrees to support the government on confidence and budgetary matters — notably on budgetary policy, budget implementation bills, estimates and supply — and that the Liberal Party commits to govern for the duration of the agreement.” In exchange, the Liberals are expected to “launch a new dental care program for low-income Canadians [which] would start with under 12-year-olds in 2022, then expand to under 18-year-olds, seniors and persons living with a disability in 2023, then full implementation by 2025.”
Nonetheless, Jagmeet Singh was also integral to the dog and pony show. Thus he tried to add to the aura of anticipation, saying: “We want to see the budget include the funding to achieve the goals that have been laid out: the roll-out of a phase one of the dental care program, so that kids under 12 who need it most will get the care.” Other parts of the agreement, such as the implementation of a national pharmacare program beginning in 2023 are also part of the deal, he said. The agreement on pharmacare commits the Liberals “to pass a Canada Pharmacare Act by the end of 2023 and then tasking the National Drug Agency to develop a national formulary of essential medicines and bulk purchasing plan by the end of the agreement.”
Meanwhile, on the same day, the Council of the Federation comprised of the provincial level first ministers launched what it calls “an online awareness campaign to inform Canadians about the urgent need for long-term, flexible federal funding for health care.” The campaign will be run on online news platforms and is alleged to tell Canadians what they already want, with a survey showing that 85 per cent of them believe that the federal government should make increasing support for health care to provinces and territories a priority for the 2022 federal budget.
The first ministers are saying that the Canada Health Transfer is “the most effective mechanism for the federal government to support significant improvements to health services for all Canadians while enabling provinces and territories to address their diverse needs and priorities.”
They want to see the transfer increased from the current 22 per cent of provincial-territorial health care costs to 35 per cent. The issue of jurisdictional control over health care in turn opens the field of how privatization of the sector will be organized with big pharma and insurance corporations.
As of December 2021, the deficit was projected to sit at $144.5 billion, slightly lower than the $155 billion predicted in the 2021 budget.This is presented as some sort of triumph of liberal administration with no information provided on who benefitted from whatever expenditures were made.
While the budget will be released on April 7, major announcements involving significant spending have already been made in recent days and weeks. This includes huge subsidies for corporations to implement the Liberal Government’s plans for a “green” economy. Daycare agreements have taken place on minister-to-minister level with each province, the most recent being Ontario whose premier announced it is implementing a $10-a-day daycare program. So too, commitments to NATO for increased military spending have been pledged by Prime Minister Trudeau on the international stage.
Renewal Update, posted March 30, 2022.