The Liberal government still has a few months to table its first postelection budget, but they may be starting with a cupboard more bare than they were planning on.
The fall fiscal update released this morning shows that public pensions and other new spending booked since the March budget are putting pressure on the bottom line, not leaving the government a lot of fiscal room for next year.
In the past, the Liberals have used the fall update to unveil major new promises, such as the Canada Infrastructure Bank. However, this time the fiscal document was a straight update of the federal budget numbers.
The federal deficit is projected to be $28.1-billion in 2020-21, $22.1-billion in 2021-22, $18.4-billion in 2022-23 and $16.3-billion in 2023-24.
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Stephen Harper and other directors of the Conservative Fund – the organization that minds the Conservative Party’s money – dismissed the party’s executive director last week because of concerns that paying for former leader Andrew Scheer’s kids’ private school would put a chill on donations, sources tell The Globe and Mail. Getting rid of Dustin van Vugt, though, has not played well with the party’s elected body, the National Council.
The Trans Mountain pipeline expansion is back in court this year. Several B.C. First Nations will be at the Federal Court of Appeal in Vancouver to argue that the consultations for the pipeline were inadequate. Construction on the expansion just recently began near Edmonton.
Political parties do not properly handle personal information, according to a report from the federal privacy commissioner.
And a former executive vice-president of SNC-Lavalin has been found guilty of corruption related to the company’s dealings with the former Libyan regime of Moammar Gadhafi. Sami Bebawi was found guilty of five charges, including bribery and fraud. The Quebec-based engineering company is itself facing trial next year. The charges facing the firm were at the centre of the controversy earlier this year about whether the Liberal government would order prosecutors to negotiate a deal with the company so it could avoid the trial. The government has still not ruled out giving that order.
Campbell Clark (The Globe and Mail) on how Trudeau will govern in his second term: “A reading of the mandate letters he issued to his cabinet ministers, made public on Friday, makes it clear that this isn’t a move back to cabinet government, where the PM is supposed to be first among equals. In Mr. Trudeau’s cabinet, there are ministers and then there are ministers, and some who aren’t really ministers at all.”
John Ibbitson (The Globe and Mail) on how the Conservatives should pick their next leader: “Immigrant voters tend to be more socially conservative than native-born Canadians. Nonetheless, they will be reassured if the Conservative leader marches at Vancouver, Toronto and Montreal Pride parades, because they know that intolerance toward one means intolerance toward all. Protecting the rights of sexual minorities and of a women’s right to choose is part and parcel of protecting religious and cultural freedoms.”
Rita Trichur (The Globe and Mail) on the Conservative Party and industrial policy: “Dubbed ‘Harper lite,’ Mr. Scheer failed to inspire the business community or anyone else for that matter. Instead of courting progressive voters, he continued to pit Bay Street Conservatives against the ideologues the party drafted from the dregs of the old Canadian Reform Conservative Alliance. As a result, business people no longer have a natural political party in this country – a problem the next Conservative leader would be wise to solve.”
Adam Radwanski (The Globe and Mail) on the Conservative Party and environmental policy: “The better hope, for Conservatives who believe they can’t keep ceding the issue, is that there emerge leadership candidates capable of persuasively selling climate policy as part of their overall vision – and of backing it up with political organizing.”
Colleen Collins (The Globe and Mail) on the future of Bill C-69, the Impact Assessment Act: “The IAA need not be reversed – indeed, we advise against it. There are improvements to the prior legislative regime that should be retained. But there are some key changes that can and should be made. Changes that should not be seen as ideological, that would reduce neither the protection of the environment or respect for Indigenous rights contained in the bill. Rather, we recommend changes to ensure regulatory independence from government (political discretion being a major hindrance to investment), and removal of (unintended) loopholes that can and will be abused by those for whom “no” at any cost is the only option to create never-ending court challenges.”