Halton Hills and North Halton newspapers
OPINION...Ballot box budget
Independent & Free Press (Georgetown, ON), 21 Mar 2007, p. 6

Full Text

Monday's budget announcement saw Jim Flaherty put on a demonstration that would have made the most adept tightrope walker proud. As the finance minister dangled the carrot of increased federal spending, tax cuts and debt reduction in front of his political opponents, Gilles Duceppe of the Bloc Québecois took a bite-- giving Stephen Harper's Conservative government all the support it needs to pass the budget and avoid a non-confidence vote. We may find out how hungry Canadian voters were for this budget as early as this spring. If the Conservatives have accurately gauged the mood of the electorate, this mix of provincial transfer payments, tax credits for working families and billions in equalization payments for Quebec will have provided the perfect prelude to a 2007 federal election. Still, Flaherty sent some mixed messages on Monday-- offering this ominous warning to news media during the budget day lockup: "The day in Canada of governments with their hands out to other governments are passing," said Flaherty. "It's time for governments to be self-reliant and to be answerable to their own taxpayers, which is one of the benefits of fiscal balance." Apparently Flaherty wasn't referring to this year-- or next. Federal transfer payments in the budget provide Ontario with $2.33 billion over the next two years and give Quebec $2.3 billion for 2007-08-- assuming, of course, Harper's crew is returned if there's an election. The increased transfer payment news is good for Ontario and will likely see Halton politicians continue to pressure Premier Dalton McGuinty to show them some infrastructure money to help the region cope with the next two decades of projected growth. This was not a budget that targeted every Canadian. It was a budget that took dead aim at scoring strategic votes. It was about securing a future for Harper's party-- both in the House of Commons and in the house of popular opinion. This potent combination of a budget chock full of goodies and Harper's edge in popularity over Liberal leader Stéphane Dion should add up to an election call sooner than later.

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Date of Publication:
21 Mar 2007
Personal Name(s):
Flaherty, Jim ; Duceppe, Gilles ; Harper, Stephen ; McGuinty, Dalton ; Dion, Stephane
Corporate Name(s):
Bloc Québecois ; Conservative
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OPINION...Ballot box budget