Remember these now infamous words from Prime Minister Justin Trudeau in 2016?
Yes, he said it: “The budget will balance itself.”
Of course, he was wrong.
So what about the 2018 federal budget scheduled to be delivered by Finance Minister Bill Morneau Tuesday. What will it say? Has the budget balanced itself yet?
Well, not exactly.
The government now says we won’t see a surplus until 2045. Reuters News Service put it this way last March:
“Canada will run a budget surplus by 2045, the finance department projected…suggesting the Liberal government will run deficits well beyond the timeline it promised during its successful election campaign.”
What? Another broken promise? It can’t be true.
“In its updated long-term fiscal projections, the government said it sees deficits until the fiscal year 2045-46, when it sees a surplus of $10.9 billion,” the Reuters report read. “The Finance Department cautioned that the long-term numbers should not to be interpreted as forecasts and are “subject to a fair degree of uncertainty.”
Now that’s funny. How much uncertainty? Does the finance department suggest the level of uncertainty ranges anywhere from a surplus budget of $10.9 billion to a budget about $19.9 billion in the hole in 2017-18?
In an interview last October with Don Martin, host of CTV’s Power Play, Morneau defended the broken promise of returning to balance. During the 2015 federal election campaign, Prime Minister Justin Trudeau had pledged to run maximum deficits of $10 billion, until 2019 when he promised to balance the books.
“What we were talking about at that time was a demonstration of fiscal responsibility,” the finance minister said. “We think we’ve found a way to really show that.”
Can anyone believe this guy anymore?
Can anybody believe Trudeau anymore? How long are these guys going to string the Canadian taxpayers along?
Sorry boys, we don’t believe you anymore.
Opposition Leader Andrew Scheer isn’t buying it either.
Scheer said the Liberals’ updated fiscal figures last October were “terrible news,” because the deficit was double what the Liberals promised it would be, and because they had reaffirmed that returning to balance wouldn’t happen this mandate.
“It’s terrible news that the deficits are double what was promised. Only a Liberal would ask Canadians to thank him for running deficits only double what he promised,” Scheer said.
“There’s terrible news in the fact that that there is still no plan to return back to balanced budgets,” he said.
NDP’s finance critic Nathan Cullen put it this way to CTV’s Power Play: “This is all the theatre of damage control.
This update has been rushed forward in order to get the channel off of Morneau’s ethical problems.”
So what are we going to hear Tuesday? And how much of it are we going to be able to believe?
Neil Macdonald an opinion columnist for CBC News puts it this way: “…of course, the government will increase the national debt, probably by $20 billion or so. That is an absolute certainty.
“The reason is simple: like just about every other government in modern history, this government lives beyond its means,” Macdonald added.
But how much longer can this charade go on? When does the Liberal government of Justin Trudeau plan on stop playing theatre and start dealing with what is an out-of-control spending problem?
Here’s how the Fraser Institute sums up Canada’s financial crisis: “Budget deficits and increasing debt are key fiscal issues as the federal and provincial governments prepare to release their budgets this year.
Combined federal and provincial net debt has increased from $833 billion in 2007/08 to a projected $1.4 trillion in 2016/17.
Houston, we have a problem! Oops, that should read: Ottawa we have a problem. And who’s going to fix that problem? Don’t count on it being Bill Morneau or even Justin Trudeau. They are both still living in that fantasy world. You know the one….”The budget will balance itself.”
Jeff Wilkinson is a Senior Politics Reporter at Debate Report covering provincial and national politics, . Before joining Debate Report, Jeff worked on several provincial campaigns including Jack Layton. Jeff has worked as a freelance journalist in Toronto, having been published by over 20 outlets including CBC, the Center for Media and VICE.com.