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Jack Scores

Jack Layton is looking like a winner tonight. (Even Conservative bloggers say so.)

Layton looks good to his supporters because he has actually achieved something. He looks good to chicken NDP fans who switched Liberal in the last moments of the 2004 election. And, he looks good to left-leaning Liberals who want to dump the scandal-plagued government, but don't feel comfortable turning to the CPC. Whether or not this budget gets passed, Layton has bettered his position.

The CBC reports that the proposal deal includes:

  • $1.6 billion for affordable housing construction, including aboriginal housing
  • $1.5-billion increase in transfers to provinces for tuition reduction and better training through EI.
  • $900 million for environment with one more cent of the federal gas tax going to public transit
  • $500 million for foreign aid to bring Canada in line with promise of 0.7 per cent of GDP
  • $100 million for pension protection fund for workers

This ought to look interesting to people who have been arguing that the federal government should pay more attention to the needs of cities. Affordable housing construction and another cent on the gas tax will certainly help Toronto.

Bono also ought to consider switching over to NDP support. His man Martin recently told him that he can't commit to spending 0.7% of GDP on foreign spending by 2015 because he's not sure if we can afford it. Suddenly when Jack comes calling it looks pretty easy to afford, ten years early.

Not to say that there aren't critics. However, given the fact that Canada still has lower corporate tax rates than the United States, and given that this is still a balanced budget that includes debt repayment and tax cuts (though now reduced), Canadian Chamber of Commerce president Nancy Hughes Anthony sounds a bit histrionic when she says (quoted in the Toronto Star):

The government's decision to rescind its commitment to tax relief for all businesses, will threaten Canada's credibility with business and with investors. ...Canada's reputation as a place to do business and invest will be tarnished by this decision. [emphasis mine]

It still is a close call as to whether or not this budget will ever get passed. It part it depends on the three independents, but it may not even get that far if the Conservatives aren't sure the time is quite right to pull the plug. There is also the possibility thet the CPC may let the budget slip through and then defeat the Liberals on a separate non-confidence motion. Perhaps doing it that way would make the election more about the scandal than it is about the contents of this budget. Although I don't buy the arguments about "Canadians not wanting to have an election", I do think it is less than ideal for the Cons to be seen to be forcing an election over this budget rather than general confidence in Martin's party.




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