Federal Finance Minister Bill Morneau takes questions from children from the Toronto and Kiwanis Boys and Girls Club, after putting on his new budget shoes for a pre-budget photo opportunity in Toronto on Thursday, March 14, 2019. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Chris Young

Budget to tout Liberal economic record, provide distraction from SNC furor

This is the Liberal government’s fourth and final budget before the election

The Trudeau government will attempt to set the stage for this fall’s election — and provide some distraction from the SNC-Lavalin affair — with today’s end-of-mandate budget touting the Liberals’ economic record.

The Liberal government’s fourth and final budget before the election is expected to include measures to help first-time home buyers, seniors and adult Canadians who want to return to school for skills training.

It’s also expected to take an initial step towards a national pharmacare program and disclose details of previously announced tax credits and incentives, worth $595 million over five years, to help Canada’s ailing journalism industry.

But Finance Minister Bill Morneau will also try to set the narrative for the coming election, arguing that years of deficit spending have put the economy on a stronger footing.

Expect him to credit the Liberals’ investments in infrastructure and other spending measures for the creation of almost 950,000 jobs and the lowest unemployment rate in almost 40 years, and point to the Liberals’ enhanced child benefit for the lowest poverty rate in 10 years.

Moreover, Morneau is expected to boast a better fiscal picture than he anticipated in last fall’s economic update, thanks to an increase in tax revenues despite surprisingly weak economic growth in the final three months of 2018.

The budget is being presented in the midst of a continuing furor over allegations that Prime Minister Justin Trudeau, his senior staff and others improperly pressured former attorney general Jody Wilson-Raybould to end a criminal prosecution of SNC-Lavalin. The affair has so far cost Trudeau two cabinet ministers, his principal secretary and the country’s top public servant, although he continues to insist no one did anything wrong.

The Liberal-dominated House of Commons justice committee is to meet behind closed doors today to discuss opposition demands for Wilson-Raybould, who’s already given nearly four hours of testimony, to be recalled. She has indicated she has more to say, particularly about the period between her mid-January move from Justice to Veterans Affairs and her resignation from cabinet a month later.

READ MORE: Five things to watch for in the Liberals’ final fiscal blueprint

READ MORE: Privy Council clerk Michael Wernick retires in wake of SNC-Lavalin case

However, the Liberal MPs on the committee sent a letter to the chair late Monday indicating that they’ll block any further investigation into the matter. They said they’ve heard enough after 13 hours of testimony from 10 different witnesses and they “believe that all rules and laws were followed.” The Liberal MPs said the “appropriate way forward” is to let the federal ethics commissioner conclude his own investigation into the matter.

Today’s budget may at least give the Liberals a short respite from the SNC-Lavalin affair.

But it will also draw attention to the Liberals’ failure to deliver on a major 2015 campaign promise, to run up annual deficits of no more than $10 billion before balancing the budget by 2019.

Instead, the Trudeau government has posted deficits of more than $18 billion in each of the last two years and has offered no timeline for returning to balance. In his economic update last fall, Morneau projected annual deficits of between $18.1 billion and $19 billion over the next three years.

The Canadian Press


Like us on Facebook and follow us on Twitter.

Just Posted

Monkey spotted on late-night jaunt in Campbell River

Conservation officers also apparently looking for cougar in the area

Community profiles show social determinants of health

Reports depict life in Campbell River and other Strathcona communities

‘Free Willy’ bill to end whale captivity supported by MP Blaney

Blaney says law would have died without efforts by New Democrat MPs

VIDEO: Pickup truck smashes into Campbell River home

No injuries reported in Friday morning incident

Help needed in locating concrete pump stolen from Campbell River business

The pump is considered a very high value item to the business

10 facts about Father’s Day

Did you know that the special day for dads was first celebrated in 1910?

Bombers down B.C. Lions 33-23 in season opener

Former Lion Andrew Harris leads Winnipeg with 148 rushing yards

Northern B.C. family remembers murdered Indigenous woman with memorial walk

Still no closure for Ramona Wilson’s family 25 years later

B.C. university to offer mentorship program for former youth in care

Students using the provincial tuition waiver program will soon be able to form a community at KPU

Cyclists competing in one of the toughest bike races on the planet pass through Fernie

Divide riders looking strong as they finish first leg of 4160 km race

You might not know these B.C. records are public

Hired a lawyer to file a civil claim? Those are published online

B.C. bus driver loses case to get job back after texting while driving full bus

An arbitator ruled that Tim Wesman’s phone usage was a “a reckless disregard for public safety”

Revamped B.C. Lions set to battle veteran Winnipeg Blue Bombers

The Lions’ first test of the season will be a big one

No business case for Trans Mountain expansion, says former environment minister

Cabinet is expected to announce its decision on the expansion of the Alberta-to-B.C. pipeline by Tuesday

Most Read