Pubdate: Mon, 05 Mar 2018
Source: Daily Courier, The (CN BC)
Copyright: 2018 The Okanagan Valley Group of Newspapers
Author: Dan Albas
Page: A6


Last week, the Liberal government introduced the 2018 budget. As is
customary in Canadian democracy, it is the role of the Liberal
government to promote what it views as the merits of their budget.

As the Official Opposition, it is our job to illustrate the concerns
we have with the budget. On that note, I have a few. It has become
clear over this mandate, that the prime minister excels in making
promises, but often falls short on the delivery of said promises. For
example, we were promised electoral reform, a national housing
strategy, infrastructure investment, new fighter jets for our
militaryÂ…the list goes on. This budget is no exception. Mr. Trudeau
distinctly promised Canadians that after a series of small deficits,
his government would return to a balanced budget in 2019. This budget
demonstrates that the Liberals have no intention whatsoever of
returning to balance in 2019.

Budget 2018 calls for yet another deficit of $18 billion this year.
Based on the current pace, Mr. Trudeau will add $450 billion to
Canada's national debt over the next 27 years.

Why is this a concern?

In short: because you and I, pay interest on that debt.

By the year 2022, which is only four short years away, it's estimated
that Canadians will be making annual interest payments of $33 billion
on that outstanding debt. To put that number in context, the amount of
the annual transfer, that the Government of Canada provides the
provinces to deliver health care to Canadians, is currently $36 billion.

Another promise in this budget relates to a National Pharmacare
Program, an idea that has long been championed by the NDP. What's
interesting is there is no actual money allocated to pay for a
National Pharmacare Program. Rather, the Liberals announced that they
will create an advisory panel to further study the idea. This idea has
already been studied in Ottawa for close to a decade.

When it came to legalizing marijuana, the Liberals made a commitment
to do so by July 1, 2018. In my view, if the Liberals were serious
about creating a National Pharmacare Program, they would have made
similar timeline commitment and attached dollars in this budget to
make it happen. Jack Knox is a columnist with the Victoria Times Colonist.

Regarding marijuana legalization, a seldom discussed proposal in this
budget is a commitment to spend $546 million over five years to
enforce federal pot legislation. This appears to be an admission that
the Liberals now realize that illegal marijuana may well be a serious
threat to undercutting legal marijuana.

I mention this because one of the arguments for legalization from Mr.
Trudeau was that there would be less need for law enforcement.

While the budget proposes to spend $546 million to enforce marijuana
legalization, it also proposes to spend less than half of that amount
to fight opioid addiction. The budget calls for $231 million to be
spent over the next five years to fight the opioid crisis. That said,
it is unclear how this money will be divided up between the provinces
and territories. Things not in the budget? For the most part
infrastructure, military, daycare, housing affordability and poverty
reduction were items that received no significant upgrades or mention.
The Liberals promoted this as a gender-based budget and in fact used
the word "gender" 359 times in a budget document that is 367 pages

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Dan Albas is the member of Parliament for Central Okanagan Similkameen 
Nicola. This riding includes Kelowna (specific boundaries), West 
Kelowna, Peachland, Summerland, Keremeos, Princeton, Merritt and Logan Lake.
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