Sunday, May 07, 2006

A few words on the Budget

Well it looks like PM Harper's first full budget has managed the impossible, with the exception of the standard complaints from the opposition members in the House and Senate, it has majority support from the Canadian public, with an over 60% rating in Quebec alone (a small miracle for a Conservative budget).

Now it's not all win win, the big loss is it calls for the previous tax cut of 1% to be cut in half, but in my humble opinion, it is a step in the right direction.

With a lack of large government controlled programs, it instead opts instead for specialized tax breaks for people meeting specific conditions. The biggest example of this is the Conservative child care system. Instead of the Liberal model of giving large sums of cash to the provinces for 'child care' related spending (with absolutely no definition as to what constitutes 'child care'), they choose to give the money directly to the parents. The end result is this will help out every family with small children instead of the few lucky enough to live in metropolitan areas who are high enough on the waiting lists to get into one of the few thousand additional spots opened up under the Liberal plan (which really wasn't a plan so much as a sorry last minute vote buying scheme).

Another clear difference in the Conservative vs. Liberal methodology is their approach to the growing childhood obesity problem. Instead of creating some new bureaucratic nightmare of a program to try and find ways to deal with the problem at a Federal level, Harper's Conservatives have instead opted to make sports program expenses deductible off the parents personal taxes. This is the way I like to see the government 'interfere' with a persons daily life; instead of trying to grab more power unto itself by creating a 'Department of Fat Kids' with a staff of hundreds and it's own Ministerial position, as was the Liberal solution to most problems, they simply reward actions that they see as beneficial to society through tax breaks. The end result is an increase of the desired activity with no actual out of pocket expense to the Feds.

Then there's the GST reduction. Finally, after 13 years of promises by the previous government to scrap the Goods and Services Tax, the same group of people who put it in place to fight the deficit are back and are the first to actually begin to repeal it. Now it's only 1% for now, but in a few budgets time who knows, it could drop to 5, 4, 3 or even all the way to 0, depending on how the economy adjusts.

But beside the budget there's also word of a new crime bill that would actually look to enforce tough sentences on certain types of violent crimes. Imagine that, instead of fighting crime by creating a multi-billion registry which few people actually used anyway, you fight it by making the sentences for the crimes which can result in the greatest threat to the safety of the general public tougher. Now there are already complaints coming from the left that making gun crime sentences harsher than the current slap on the wrist will cost million of extra dollars a year, but yet those same people seem to have no problems with so many other millions being lost on failed programs and, once again because it's so fun to use as an example, a gun registry for hunting rifles (I'm told not the weapon of choice for even the most down on his luck gang banger) that somehow cost upwards of 1 billion dollars and was projected to hit 2 billion before long (or in other words, approximately enough money to pay for 1 and a half years of incarceration for every person currently in the Canadian prison population).

Overall, I'd have the give the neophyte Harper administration a thumbs up. He may have been, and for that matter still continues to be, a little weak on his PR side of things, but he does seem to be following through on his campaign promises. Just imagine that, a Canadian politician actually following through on campaign promises. I was beginning to think that once Mike Harris (former Conservative Premier of Ontario for those not in the know) had left politics that I would never see the like of such a thing again. It's nice to see on that point I was wrong (hey it doesn't happen often but I can admit my mistakes when they happen).

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