2009 Canadian budget, the Tory blue fields a budget of red

Call the 2009 Canadian budget the “Christmas Tree” budget, it has a bunch of gifts underneath it in an attempt to please everyone.

A $40 billion stimulus which will deliver a $64 billion plunge into deficit over the next two years already has coalition wolves howling. Pundits will say you need to spend money to make money and spend we will, if the budget goes through and is not shot down.

The budget is very un-Tory-like and one has to wonder, is it a sign that the true roots of Conservatism in Canada are dead or is it an answer to a higher calling for government to manage in a crisis?

Some quick reflections on:

  • $12 billion in infrastructure is a great start but requiring other governments and partners to match the 50 per cent in costs the feds cover, in most of the infrastructure funding measures, might be a bit too much to ask. Canadian municipalities are cash-strapped already, asking them to ante up cash they may not have is not necessarily productive. However, shovel-ready projects will finally get going but not likely this year-so a delayed stimulus there.
  • The $515 million for First Nations infrastructure improvements in the areas of school, water and waster water and critical social services is a wonderful commitment to see. Sadly, the state of we have essentially forced our First Nations people to live in so abysmal, this funding is merely a drop in the bucket but a good commitment all the same.
  • A $2 billion  commitment for infrastructure improvements at our slowly decaying universities and colleges is much needed, the split of 70 per cent of that cash going to universities needs to be revisited though. This funding should go 50-50 between both colleges and universities. It is at the college level where most of the retraining of the unemployed  and skilled trades development occurs.

One could keep picking away, there is so much in this budget, not only as a response to the economic crisis we are in but also because it about Tory survival. Make no mistake, yes, the Tories are trying to stem the tide of a recession no one knows the depth of yet but they are trying to stay in power. The scatter-shot approach in this budget is about making it hard to shoot down by the opposition.

The budget is very un-Tory-like and one has to wonder, is it a sign that the true roots of Conservatism in Canada are dead or is it an answer to a higher calling for government to manage in a crisis?

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