Federal Finance Minister Bill Morneau takes questions from children from the Toronto and Kiwanis Boys and Girls Club, after putting on his new budget shoes for a pre-budget photo opportunity in Toronto on Thursday, March 14, 2019. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Chris Young

Budget to tout Liberal economic record, provide distraction from SNC furor

This is the Liberal government’s fourth and final budget before the election

The Trudeau government will attempt to set the stage for this fall’s election — and provide some distraction from the SNC-Lavalin affair — with today’s end-of-mandate budget touting the Liberals’ economic record.

The Liberal government’s fourth and final budget before the election is expected to include measures to help first-time home buyers, seniors and adult Canadians who want to return to school for skills training.

It’s also expected to take an initial step towards a national pharmacare program and disclose details of previously announced tax credits and incentives, worth $595 million over five years, to help Canada’s ailing journalism industry.

But Finance Minister Bill Morneau will also try to set the narrative for the coming election, arguing that years of deficit spending have put the economy on a stronger footing.

Expect him to credit the Liberals’ investments in infrastructure and other spending measures for the creation of almost 950,000 jobs and the lowest unemployment rate in almost 40 years, and point to the Liberals’ enhanced child benefit for the lowest poverty rate in 10 years.

Moreover, Morneau is expected to boast a better fiscal picture than he anticipated in last fall’s economic update, thanks to an increase in tax revenues despite surprisingly weak economic growth in the final three months of 2018.

The budget is being presented in the midst of a continuing furor over allegations that Prime Minister Justin Trudeau, his senior staff and others improperly pressured former attorney general Jody Wilson-Raybould to end a criminal prosecution of SNC-Lavalin. The affair has so far cost Trudeau two cabinet ministers, his principal secretary and the country’s top public servant, although he continues to insist no one did anything wrong.

The Liberal-dominated House of Commons justice committee is to meet behind closed doors today to discuss opposition demands for Wilson-Raybould, who’s already given nearly four hours of testimony, to be recalled. She has indicated she has more to say, particularly about the period between her mid-January move from Justice to Veterans Affairs and her resignation from cabinet a month later.

READ MORE: Five things to watch for in the Liberals’ final fiscal blueprint

READ MORE: Privy Council clerk Michael Wernick retires in wake of SNC-Lavalin case

However, the Liberal MPs on the committee sent a letter to the chair late Monday indicating that they’ll block any further investigation into the matter. They said they’ve heard enough after 13 hours of testimony from 10 different witnesses and they “believe that all rules and laws were followed.” The Liberal MPs said the “appropriate way forward” is to let the federal ethics commissioner conclude his own investigation into the matter.

Today’s budget may at least give the Liberals a short respite from the SNC-Lavalin affair.

But it will also draw attention to the Liberals’ failure to deliver on a major 2015 campaign promise, to run up annual deficits of no more than $10 billion before balancing the budget by 2019.

Instead, the Trudeau government has posted deficits of more than $18 billion in each of the last two years and has offered no timeline for returning to balance. In his economic update last fall, Morneau projected annual deficits of between $18.1 billion and $19 billion over the next three years.

The Canadian Press


Like us on Facebook and follow us on Twitter.

Just Posted

Still anyone’s game in lacrosse championships unfolding in Langley

Orangeville, Okotoks victorious on Day 2 of Minto Cup nationals at the Langley Events Centre

VIDEO: A few small changes help drive attendance at Saturday’s Arts Alive

Langley art festival brings close to 200 various artists and thousands of spectators to Langley City

Abandoned house blaze worries Langley neighbours

Redevelopment area of Willowby attracts squatters and partiers, and fires fear area residents

Day 1 underway at 2019 Minto Cup in Langley

Coquitlam and Orangeville out ahead after the first day of action at Langley Events Centre

Fighting cancer with beer

Clover Valley Beer Festival hosts 2500 guests and raises $5908 for B.C. Cancer Foundation

70 years of lifting: Canadian man, 85, could cinch weightlifting championship

The senior gym junkie is on track to win the World Masters Weightlifting championship

Advocates ‘internationalize’ the fight to free Raif Badawi from Saudi prison

Raif Badawi was arrested on June 17, 2012, and was later sentenced to 1,000 lashes and 10 years in jail for his online criticism of Saudi clerics

RCMP, search crews hunt for 4-year-old boy missing near Mackenzie

George went missing early Saturday afternoon

Canadian entrepreneurs turning beer byproduct into bread, cookies and profits

Some breweries turn to entrepreneurs looking to turn spent grain into treats for people and their pets

Canada ‘disappointed’ terror suspect’s British citizenship revoked

Jack Letts, who was dubbed “Jihadi Jack” by the U.K. media, has been detained in a Kurdish prison for about two years

Chrystia Freeland condemns violence in Hong Kong, backs right to peaceful assembly

There have been months of protests in the semi-autonomous region

B.C. VIEWS: Log exports and my other errors so far in 2019

Plastic bags, legislature overspending turn out differently

Most Read