So this is it, folks. The moment you've all been waiting for. (Or not). But still; the Conservatives have unleashed their 2009 budget.
First things first, on a little digression, thank Goddess that Jim Flaherty is not a lecturer. Dear Moses, that man is monotonous! His voice alone practically put me to sleep.
And before I start ripping into politicians for all their lack of sensibility and pizazz, I would like to acknowledge that I was quite pleased with the lack of buffoonery. There was some cheering but very little of the booing and "SHAME!" fist pounding as usual. Which means, they have the capability! They can do it! So why don't they always do it? Seriously, people.
Canada's real 2009 mission should be to bring some civility back to Parliament Hill. But I've been flogging that dead horse for a while now, so I guess I'm just old school.
Anywhoo, as I'm sure you've heard by now, the economy is in the toilet and so the Conservatives have said that we need to go into a deficit. But fear not, wee children! They're apparently going to pull us out of this deficit in 5 years. Which if they can pull it off, well I might even vote Conservative sometime. Alright, who am I kidding? But seriously. If they can pull it off, I'll be mighty impressed.
Some of the highlights of the budget, for me, was the inclusion of broadband internet access under the infrastructure package. This is a new one and its quite interesting. Canada has long treated internet access as a type of infrastructure necessity but this is the first time they've really made it clear. And I think this is great.
If you're going to make internet access a necessity then make it accessible. Seems obvious to me.
The big part of the budget that was made to cater to lefties is the so-called 1-2 billion for social housing. One to two billion for social housing! Wow! This is a lefty's dream... except that it's not. Because "social housing" includes elderly people, single mothers, students and aboriginal reserves.
Quite frankly, in government terms, one billion isn't that much to begin with. And then when you include so many demographics under that one project, it starts to look pretty shabby. It was clearly a way of trying to appease the "Coalition of the Left" and yet the fine print points out that there isn't much there.
Like most things in politics, it sounds nice but is pretty shit in practice. Better than nothing, I know, but not enough to get excited about.
Same with the apparent shitload of money for infrastructure and employment. Municipalities desperately need money for infrastructure and have been saying so for years. The new budget does indeed give money in these areas, but it requires 1/3 Fed money, 1/3 Prov money and 1/3 municipal money. So once again, looks fancy but in practice, how better off are they really?
My take? This is an impressive Conservative budget. With a capital C. For a bunch of right-wing nuts, I'm impressed with their acknowledgment that "Hey, people need places to live in order to spend money!" and "Jobs matter!"
But I'm definitely not impressed with their lack of Green initiatives (which hey, create jobs, too!) and they're denial, once again, about the importance of pay equity. Job creation = Great! Doing the same job for lesser pay = Not so great!
Conservatives still haven't figured out that equation yet.
Morally, I would vote this budget down if I had a say. But practically, I'd vote for it. Canadians need something fast and right now, this shitpile is better than nothing. What I'm really hoping for is that Ignatieff's demand for an amendment to the budget passes. The amendment would require the Conservatives to report on the projects they've proposed and how the money is spent. Basically, an economic update a few times a year to show that the money is going (or not going) where it was intended to go. Once again, smooth move Ignatieff.
Only time will tell if the budget will pass and make a difference to Canada and its economy. Personally, I'm crossing my fingers but not holding my breath.