The first budget delivered by the Liberals signaled a return to 1970s Trudeaupian Liberalism, not just with its flagrant disregard for balanced budgets and ballooning debt, but also by disregarding a core accountability under our Constitution: Canada's military.
For the past 20 years, Canada was a model of financial responsibility to the world -- the Chretien/Martin Liberals and the Harper Conservatives strove to balance budgets in periods of growth. The Trudeau Liberals were handed a balanced budget and we are currently experiencing positive economic growth.
Yet the Liberals have plunged us deep into deficit and project to add, in their first budget alone, $150 billion to Canada's $1.3 trillion debt.
Not only is there no sound economic reason to plunge Canada into deficit today, the Trudeau Liberals have no plan to return to balance tomorrow.
The Liberals have chosen short-term gain and long-term pain.
Equally disturbing, we look to be returning to the Trudeaupian tradition of starving our military.
We need to be at war with those who are at war with us. We need to take a proactive approach to say "never again."
In the 1970s the Liberals slashed military spending from 2.5 to 1.6 per cent of our economy. The number of troops fell by almost a quarter, from over 100,000 to just over 75,000 .
The 1980s saw some recovery in investment, but the 1990s was a "decade of darkness" -- a name given by former chief of defence staff Rick Hillier to describe the deep spending cuts imposed on the military by the government of former prime minister Jean Chretien.
As an example of the underfunding of that era, the Chretien Liberals sent our military men and women into combat in the desert -- wearing green jungle fatigues. The recent budget promises to bring in at least another four years of darkness.
The recent horrifying bombings in Lahore, Brussels, Paris, Ankara, and Istanbul -- all within the last five months -- are proof that the crisis with terrorism and the rise of ISIS not only impacts the Middle East, but the entire world, including here in Canada.
It leads to a more specific question about the role of our military on the international stage. In the last year, I've had the opportunity to travel to Germany, Turkey, Vietnnam and Cambodia. In each instance I visited major sites of war where the world has said "never again."
While standing at the killing fields in Cambodia -- a conflict where Canada did nothing to stop the atrocities of genocide -- and in thinking about the current refugee crisis, I thought to myself, "When will 'never again' really mean 'never again?'"
If we really want to help Syrian refugees, we need to help stop those from whom they flee. That means military engagement with ISIS.
We need to be at war with those who are at war with us. We need to take a proactive approach to say "never again." We need to stand beside our allies and do our part to fight against those who attack our personal liberties, killing innocents in the name of a different ideology.
That means prioritizing federal spending on the federal responsibilities -- Peace Order and Good Government. If we ask our military men and women to serve our country, the least we can do is give them the properly functioning equipment, tools, and support both during and after their service that is possible.
This budget represents a return to the dark days of Trudeaupian Liberalism at the price of long-term debt and military underfunding. Our military deserves better. Our future generations deserve better. A lifetime of paying back this Trudeau government's short-sighted spending spree is anything but.
Susanne DiCocco leads a consulting practice in Calgary and has 18 years' experience in the public sector and the energy industry.
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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)
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