The word "innovation" appears 122 times in the federal government's 2012-2013 budget. The government is clearly frustrated by the limited success of its programs to spur innovation in Canadian businesses. Is innovation is really an issue that large-scale government programs can solve?
I was thinking of my grandfather on March 29 when the Conservative government announced in the budget that it will raise the Old Age Security (OAS) benefits from age 65 to 67. We do have a looming pension crisis in Canada, not because people are retiring too early, but because their combined pension and investment income will still see them retiring into poverty.
It's done! The budget is a vigorous economic action plan for Canada. Most important, it is a long-term vision. Many measures have been adopted to ensure that government policies encourage the creation of wealth and private-sector jobs. What are the changes?
Everyone knows that there are always winners and losers come federal budget time. Thursday's budget, however,was built on the emerging dynamic in federal politics where Big Oil wins big time at the expense of all Canadians -- our health, our right to open and democratic debate, and our pocketbooks.
Small spending allotments are trampled by spending cuts to health and essential service agencies. A mention of money being set aside for Aboriginal education is accompanied by a cut of two per cent to Aboriginal Affairs, and 5.7 per cent cut to Health Canada. This seems like a "take from Peter to give to Paul" kind of game, with no one being the clear winner.
With Greece and other peripheral euro zone countries on the verge of debt implosion, Japan's deficit soaring above Mount Fuji, and the U.S. at a stage where a one trillion dollar deficit would be seen as a successful budget, Canada's deficits appear minor.
From the perspective of the three westernmost provinces, there were some promising measures in the latest budget: Outside pressure from over-zealous environmentalists and the current regulatory framework threaten to undermine productivity in the resource sector. The budget attempts to streamline the process. It also attempts to help with Western labor shortage through immigration reform.
To coincide with budget day in Canada yesterday CBC's "The Current" featured a segment on something called participatory budgeting, which engages local citizens and communities in allocating funds to projects and priorities. Average citizens are no less equipped to make these tough decisions than average politicians.
The 2012 federal budget was the last silky adornment to be peeled off in Stephen Harper's long dance of seven veils with Canadian Conservatives. Turns out there's not much underneath.
An important long run element in today's budget is the change in "retirement age" -- actually a change in the age of eligibility for Old Age Security (OAS). Nowadays, age 65 is more like late middle age than old age and people who reach that age can look forward, on average, to a couple of decades of an enjoyable life.
Budget news came down the Parliamentary stairway with Finance Minister Jim Flaherty and Stephen Harper sharing in a laugh while reporters furiously thumbed their blackberries, shoved mics in politcians' faces, or yelled, "Tweet that!" in newsrooms (as we did at HuffPostCanada). Feeling a little bombarded with info? We thought you might be.
On March 29, the Harper Conservatives have a choice. They can continue with this failed and destructive experiment in their 2012 federal budget. Or they can recognize that economic growth is best achieved by putting more spending power in the hands of workers.
If the CBC budget is cut by 10 per cent on Thursday, a frightening future faces Canada's only national public service broadcaster. Quality will drop everywhere. But it would also be a chance for the CBC to re-think its entire approach to news.
Stephen Harper is getting ready to slash 10 per cent of Veterans Affairs' budget, claiming 80 per cent of veterans and their families are very pleased with Veterans Affairs Canada (VAC) services. Problem is, the survey doesn't account for clients who refused to take it.
My column last Monday called out the CBC for using staged shots and one of the reporters e-mailed me objecting. My point was simply that the shots looked staged. For the camera. In fact, those two people actually were pretending to listen to their phones. Which detracted from the integrity of the story.
Canadians must accept the fact that we have at least another three years of oil ideologues holding the levers of power in Ottawa. The polls in B.C. that show Tory support has dropped 16 points are at least encouraging, showing that voters there aren't buying it. Let's hope that the rest of the country soon wakes up too.