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Points of View
Some reactions to the federal budget
Although it was called a budget for everyone, it appears that almost everyone is finding
faults in the budget; here is a rundown of their positions.
Bankers and Economists
The majority of bankers and economists subscribe to free market economic theories and
view heavily centralized economies as inefficient. As such, they argue that government
surpluses would better justify tax cuts. They feel that more money in the pockets of
Canadian consumers fuels economic growth.
The third world conditions experienced on many of Canada’s reserves, and for many urban
First Nations’ people, was one of the preoccupations of the budget. But, while Indian
Affairs Minister Robert Nault said it was “a huge announcement,” the Assembly of First
Nations spokesperson countered, “the socio-economic gap is still not closing quickly
enough.” This wasn’t the level of investment most native leaders were hoping for.
Small and medium-sized businesses are satisfied with the tax relief they will receive
from the budget. While some wished for more broad tax relief, the targeted tax concessions
make the majority better off.
The government has devoted a hefty sum to environmental initiatives – with $2 billion
earmarked for emissions targets – but there are very few specifics defined in the budget.
Most environmental lobby groups are disappointed with the government’s failure to identify
specific areas and targets for the money, and are worried that there is little in the
way of real commitments.
As expected, the competing parties doled out criticism for the budget.
The New Democratic Party (NDP) commented that the budget does not
adequately address Canadian social issues, stating, “most people who are homeless are
going to be homeless at the end of the day.”
The Progressive Conservatives (PC) felt that the budget had no central
focus and was mostly about handcuffing Paul Martin. Leader, Joe Clark stated, “there's
a very strong element of revenge here…getting back at Paul Martin…limiting his flexibility
if he becomes prime minister.”
The Bloc Québécois felt the budget focussed on the wrong
priorities; leader Gilles Duceppe stated, "all in all, they're not responding to
The Alliance Party argued that the spending increase was a return
to the wasteful governments of the past. Its leader, Stephen Harper complained, “it's
an old-fashioned tax-and-spend Liberal budget."
Health and Welfare Sector
Health and welfare programs received large cash infusions. But, the majority opinion
is that it will take some time to reduce critical shortages in both sectors. It is widely
viewed that there will need to be even more budget increases before they can repair
the damage done by cutbacks over the previous decade.