Volume 93, Issue 79

Wednesday, March 1, 2000


Editorial Board 1999-2000

Piling it on for votes

Editorial cartoon

Piling it on for votes

There was little doubt when Finance Minister Paul Martin stood in front of the House of Commons on Monday to read from his highly anticipated budget, re-election of the federal Liberal party weighed heavily on his mind.

Martin seemed to hit every social and economic hot spot with his lengthy address. Under this year's budget, each province will receive aid for health and education, to the tune of $2.5 billion.

He promised child tax benefits, federal debt reduction, $4 billion to high tech initiatives, corporate tax breaks, breaks for small businesses, a doubling of parental leave, an increase in the foreign content allowed in RRSP contributions and of course, everybody's favourite – a lower tax rate. The Liberal budget begs the question – could they have tried to please anybody else?

There's no doubt the effort made by Martin and his finance team should be applauded. However, when assessing this year's budget it is vital to understand the driving force behind such a wide-ranging announcement.

The Liberals want votes.

By dividing the pie up as equally as possible, the feds are simply making an effort to please as many people as possible. Sure each group can cry foul and claim to have not gotten enough money, however, the government can simply counter by saying there are a lot of hungry mouths out there to feed.

Luckily for the Chrétien government, they had a healthy surplus with which to work. The Liberals are hoping that the more they spread around, the more people there'll be at the ballot boxes voting Liberal.

There are, however, some very interesting parts of the budget, one of which is the recognition of the dreaded brain drain – an issue which Chrétien himself denied ever existed in the first place. It seems the Liberals found it important to please those weary of buzz words.

As well, the money being allocated to post-secondary education is a boost to a system in need and students are sure to benefit from the raise in the limit on taxable scholarships from $500 to $3,000.

Sadly, it takes an election year for the government to finally make an attempt to address the plight of the country's students.

One would have thought even more could have been done for students, considering Human Resources Development Canada has misplaced almost as much money as the feds plan to direct towards education. Hopefully, they'll do the paperwork this time.

Only time will tell whether or not this election budget will help usher the Liberals back into office. Most voters often only remember the last thing a government has done for them.

In this case, it's vital to at least remember the reasons behind the last decisions from the cronies in the Commons.

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