Editorial: Cautious federal budget ignores the big picture

no surprise that the federal government is veering away from privatization talk

By The Valley Echo’s press time, there still had been no word about the announcement regarding Radium Hot Pools hinted at by Kootenay-Columbia MP David Wilks during his commentary on the federal budget.

However,, he did confirm it will be regarding investment in the national parks, and not along the lines of privatization. It’s probably not to far off to speculate that privatization of the mountain parks’ hot pools has been taken off the table, at least for the time being,  until the federal election is over and done with. We’ll know more on that front coming up, it seems.

It comes as no surprise that the federal government is veering away from privatization talk right now, just as it veered away from any surprise announcements in the budget released last week.

Tax breaks for small business, albeit drawn out over five years, will be welcomed locally, as will investments in infrastructure and recreational fisheries. The local retirement community will appreciate the rule changes for  TFSAs and RRIFs, but there is zero mention of climate change — and 106 references to oil.

“Once again, no surprise, an anti-environmental budget,” the Green Party leader said in an interview with The Huffington Post Canada. While the move to a balanced budget with a surplus will help attract outside investment, this was achieved by trimming the contingency fund to $1 billion from $3 billion, leaving the government with very little wiggle room moving ahead. And though the budget was delayed to give the government more time to assess the drop in oil prices, no new vision or clear changes in strategy are coming out of Parliament Hill at this time. Meanwhile, the Canadian economy  stalled in the first quarter of 2015 and household debt is at an all-time high (relative to income). Critics say the budget benefits the wealthy, is back-loaded and focuses on future spending on the eve of a federal election. Whether it’s a strong enough document to weather the oil price drop remains to be seen, and Canadians will be watching.