Kelowna-Lake Country Conservative MP Ron Cannan calls last week’s federal budget a visionary document put together under the strong, intelligent leadership of Stephen Harper.
Kelowna-Lake Country Liberal candidate Stephen Fuhr says the budget is a smoke-and-mirrors document designed to fool the electorate ahead of this October’s federal election.
And at least one senior economist says the Conservative announcement of a balanced budget came only after playing with the numbers and moving money from a contingency fund and the Employment Insurance account.
Whoever is to be believed, last week’s federal budget appears to have opened the doors to a summer and fall of election posturing.
“The goal was to balance the budget and we accomplished that goal,” said Cannan last week while in Kelowna to make appearances at several events. “Considering the focus is on long term prosperity, providing a balanced budget is part of what Prime Minister Harper and Finance Minister Joe Oliver set out to do.”
Cannan defended the moving of $2 billion from the contingency fund—historically used only for emergency—as necessary with sudden and record drop in oil prices.
But Queen’s University economist Don Drummond told the Globe and Mail newspaper that the government is playing with numbers. And Fuhr, who is running for the Liberal party in Kelowna-Lake Country, said the budget is not balanced and its true cost will only be found out next year, well after the 2015 election.
“It’s smoke and mirrors, these guys haven’t been able to balance the budget in seven years,” said Fuhr. “If you look at what some of the experts are saying they are all saying the same thing: They’ve borrowed money from the contingency reserve and treated employment insurance like a revenue centre. They were going to balance the budget no matter what it took. I think this was just done to pacify or deceive people in an election year.”
For his part, Cannan called the budget very positive for the community and the country, saying they are creating jobs, providing stable funding options for local government with a new infrastructure program and have the lowest level of taxation in 50 years.
Some programs or funding announcements made by the Conservatives do not come into effect for several years but Cannan said that’s part of the planning process.
“That’s part of budget planning,” said Canada. “Your capital plans are not just for one year. Even in business, the largest corporations look down the road and have a vision for where you want to go.”
A former fighter pilot and now Liberal candidate, Fuhr said many of the announcements in the budget only serve the top income earners and do little to help the middle class or low income earners.
“There is income splitting for high income earners that can transfer money to their spouse,” he said. “That’s going to be benefiting the 15 per cent of Canadians that need it the least. That’s ludicrous.”
The federal election is Monday Oct. 19.