Yes… it’s been quite a while since my last column. Once again, my apologies.
So… On Tuesday afternoon the Harper Government presented its Budget – its “pre-election budget”, as many are calling it.
Predictably, the leaders of all three opposition parties decried this document.
Thomas Mulcair, NDP leader, stated that this budget “…takes from the poor and gives to the rich; a sort of reverse Robin Hood.” He stressed that this document “does nothing for the middle class.” There were provisions that Mulcair applauded, offering the caveat that they were originally NDP ideas.
Justin Trudeau, leader of the Liberal Party, complained that “…Mr. Harper finds ways to give billions to the rich.”
I don’t think I am alone in finding irony in comments about how this budget is directed to the rich coming from two gentlemen who are millionaires in their own right.
Green party leader Elizabeth May made some fairly astute observations. "The Harper administration is set to spend more money on the celebrations of Canada's 150th birthday than on the crisis of First Nations education.” She also remarked that “the words 'climate change' are nowhere even mentioned.”
There are those that have voiced their approval, if not of the budget as a whole then certainly for portions that affect their particular concerns.
Canadian Federation of Independent Business president called the tax reduction measures, “… the most effective measure the federal government could take…”.
Musician Bruce Cockburn applauded the extension of Copyright provisions to 70 years.
“The measures to help families, savers and seniors are worthwhile and affordable,” was the view of Sherry Cooper, Dominion Lending Centres chief economist.
For the average Canadian, what matters isn’t all the nitty-gritty details. What will matter, come election time, is whether they have noticed any appreciable benefit from the budget provisions, or conversely, if they have noticed any negative effects.
Chances are that they may see some benefit, but more importantly they will likely not have noticed any adverse effects on their personal situation.
Mr Trudeau has already launched the first salvo of his election campaign, promising to roll-back the increases in the contribution allowance for TFSAs.
Frankly, I can’t see how that will win him any votes. It is true that both he and Mr Mulcair are decrying this increased contribution limit, stating – inaccurately – that it only serves the wealthiest in this country. They are forgetting the contribution limit is the maximum amount, not the required amount.
I have my bank account set up to make a $1 contribution to my TFSA for every transaction. In other words, every time I buy something with my debit card, or make an online transfer or payment, $1 goes into my TFSA. It’s not a lot of money, but since the bank is paying virtually no interest, I’d rather put the money into a savings vehicle that at least spares me the tax. For me, it’s better than an RRSP.
And, unlike an RRSP, I can withdraw that any or all of that money at any time, should I need to.
Yes, it is likely that only those who have a very good income would be able to make the full $10,000 contribution, but that’s not the point. (Well, it is the only point, according to Mulcair and Trudeau.)
The point is that anyone can put any amount of money up to $10,000 per year, per account. (You can have more than one TFSA.)
I fail to see how this hurts the average Canadian. I fail to see why Messrs. Mulcair and Trudeau are objecting to this.
I fail to see why Mr Trudeau wants to take that away from us.
I know there are a lot of people who object to this budget simply because it came from the harper government. They despise Harper, quite frankly. And I get that.
I find myself growing more disillusioned with him, but… I do not find much cause to complain about this budget.
True, it leaves out some items it could have addressed. Yes, it dips into the contingency fund to achieve a balance; in fact, it goes beyond balance to achieve a surplus. In reality, that extra money is still there, unspent (so far), it’s only recorded in a different column on the spreadsheet.
Harper has kept his promises with regard to this budget. Granted, the promises weren’t extensive, but all things considered – including the recent plummeting of oil prices, and the effect this had on our economy – this is a fairly decent budget.
For those who wish to see Mr Harper gone from office, my question is: to be replaced by whom?
(and, in the interest of fairness) Elizabeth May?
No, I’m not Harper’s biggest fan, but he gets my vote over the alternatives.
And this budget… I can live with it.
But… that’s just my opinion.