Finance Minister Bill Morneau evidently thinks Conservatives would do well to get past this "whole balanced budget thing."
Morneau made the remark in question period Monday, sparking an eruption of laughter and mock applause from the Tory benches.
Tory MP Lisa Raitt and Finance Minister Bill Morneau are shown in the House of Commons. (Photo: The Canadian Press)
For months now, Tories have pressed the Liberal government to admit it inherited a surplus. Interim Tory Leader Rona Ambrose urged Morneau to concede that "undeniable fact" Monday, days after the Finance Department released a report showing Ottawa ran a surplus of $7.5-billion over the first 11 months of the fiscal year.
The Parliamentary Budget Officer also projected last month that the federal government will run a small budgetary surplus in 2015-2016.
Morneau shot back that his department informed him the feds will be in a deficit position this year, but said Liberals were "focusing on things that really matter to Canadians" rather than balancing the budget at all costs.
But the minister's exchange with Conservative finance critic Lisa Raitt was perhaps more memorable.
Tory MP to Morneau: How are you sleeping these days?
Raitt, who is rumoured to be mulling a run for the Tory leadership, rose to accuse Morneau of dismissing his own department's report and "misleading Canadians" on the real fiscal situation.
The finance minister said Canadians made the right choice last October, hiring Liberals to "invest" in the economy.
"Clearly the members from the other side are still stuck in this whole balanced budget thing," he said, dismissively.
Raitt then charged that Liberals seek to stick Canadians with "billions and billions of dollars in debt."
"Clearly the members from the other side are still stuck in this whole balanced budget thing."
— Finance Minister Bill Morneau
Then she tried to use his own words against him.
"Interestingly enough, Mr. Speaker, the finance minister wrote a book. And in his book he said the following: ‘Debt prevents you from doing things, such as sleeping well at night,'" she said. "So my question for the finance minister is this: how's he sleeping at night?"
Morneau said he's catching plenty of Z's, thanks.
"I'm sleeping well at night knowing that what we're doing is we're making my children and my grandchildren better off," he said, pointing to investments in infrastructure and an "innovative economy."
With a file from The Canadian Press
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The Liberal government delivered its maiden budget Tuesday, March 22. A deficit of $29.4 billion in 2016-17, nearly three times the $10 billion promised during the fall election campaign, and a projected deficit of $17.7 billion in 2019-20 rather than the balanced budget that was promised in October. (Source: The Canadian Press)
One of the earmarks of the budget is a commitment to spending on aboriginal issues. This includes: - $2.6 billion over five years for primary and secondary education on First Nations reserves, including language and cultural programs, plus $969.4 million over five years for education infrastructure. - $1.2 billion over five years for social infrastructure for Aboriginal Peoples, including First Nations, Inuit and northern communities. - $10.4 million over three years for new women's shelters in First Nations communities, and $33.6 million over five years and $8.3 million ongoing for support services. - $40 million over two years for the inquiry into missing and murdered aboriginal women and girls. Read more here (Source: The Canadian Press)
The Liberals will be changing the structure of Canada's child benefits, ending income splitting and other tax credits for families and parents. This means: - $10 billion more over two years for a new Canada child benefit, absorbing and replacing both the Canada child tax benefit and the universal child care benefit. Targeted to low and middle-income families, the government says the new benefit provides an average increase of nearly $2,300 in 2016-17. - An end to income splitting for couples with children, the children's fitness tax credit and the children's arts tax credit. Read more here (Source: The Canadian Press)
The government will spend $2.5 billion over two years on a suite of changes, including reducing the required work experience for new entrants and re-entrants; halving the two-week waiting period; extending a pilot project to allow claimants to work while collecting benefits; simplifying job-search requirements; and extending the benefit eligibility window in specific regions with a higher unemployment rate. (Source: The Canadian Press)
- $5.6 billion more in benefits to veterans and their families over five years, including a disability award that increases to $360,000, retroactive to 2006, and an earnings loss benefit to injured vets of 90 per cent of pre-release salary. The government is also re-opening nine veterans' service offices across the country and adding a 10th. - Planned National Defence purchases worth $3.7 billion — ships, planes and vehicles — are being deferred indefinitely. Read more here (Source: The Canadian Press)
Planned National Defence purchases worth $3.7 billion — ships, planes and vehicles — are being deferred indefinitely. Read more here (Source: The Canadian Press)
The budget includes $3.4 billion over five years to increase the guaranteed income supplement top-up benefit by up to $947 annually for single seniors, and restore the old age security eligibility age to 65 from 67. Read more here (Source: The Canadian Press)
The Liberals broke a major campaign promise to cut the small business tax rate. Instead, the rate will remain at the current 10.5 per cent on the first $500,000 of active business income. Read more here (Source: The Canadian Press)
The Liberals will spend $1.53 billion over five years to increase Canada student grants to $3,000 from $2,000 for low-income students, to $1,200 from $800 for middle-income students and to $1,800 from $1,200 for part-time students. $2 billion over three years is also earmarked for a new strategic investment fund for infrastructure improvements at colleges and universities, in partnership with provinces and territories.
The Liberals' green infrastructure plan includes: - $2.2 billion over five years in water and wastewater treatment and waste management - $2 billion over two years for a low-carbon economy fund - Over $1 billion over four years to support future clean technology investments - $345.3 million over five years to Environment and Climate Change Canada, Health Canada and the National Research Council to take action to address air pollution. (Source: The Canadian Press)
The Liberals will spend $500,000 to help understand the role of foreign homebuyers in the country's housing market. The government says comprehensive and reliable data on the number of homes sold to foreign buyers does not exist right now. Read more here. (Source: The Canadian Press)
The marquee Liberal commitment to Syrian refugee resettlement could end up costing taxpayers close to $1 billion. The budget provided an additional $245 million over five years to bring in the remaining 10,000 people needed to meet the Liberal promise to resettle 25,000 Syrian refugees by the end of 2016. Read more here (Source: The Canadian Press)
$142.3 million over five years will be spent to add new national parks and improve access during the 150th anniversary of Confederation. (Source: The Canadian Press
The Grits will provide up to $178 million over two years for the provinces for urgent affordable housing needs. Read more here (Source: The Canadian Press)
The budget earmarks $38.5 million over two years to strengthen and modernize Canada's food safety system. (Source: The Canadian Press)