Weekly Commentary  

Post Olympic blues?

Monday morning a week ago the streets of Vancouver were quiet. Quiet? Yes! Especially compared to all the previous nights of the Winter Olympics.

Only hours before, the downtown was jammed with 150 thousand delirious cheering Canadians.

"Can't the afterglow last a little longer?" I thought. I didn't have to wait long for the Olympic flame to rekindle.

Forty-eight hours later I was on Parliament Hill in another crowd. This time, it was cheering, flag waving school kids. They were there to applaud (wildly) our Paralympic athletes who were lighting the torch that would get to 31 Canadian cities on its way to Vancouver.

The Prime Minister greeted our athletes in front of the Peace Tower and wished them all the best in their quest for gold. Like athletes everywhere, each one of our Special Olympians carries a story of overcoming the odds and pressing on with their dreams.

There will be over 50 hours of Paralympic television. Tune in. You will be thrilled by what you see. Go Canada Go!

Talking about gold, the next day the Minister of Finance unveiled about 270 Billion dollars of it in his Budget. Yes, that's a big number. Here's what it looks like in bite size pieces.

Imagine you were given your own portable ATM machine and you were then told you could go shopping. You would be allowed to pull money from the machine at a rate of a thousand bucks an hour, only resting one day a week to respect any local Sunday shopping by-laws.

Do you know how long it would take you to spend a billion dollars at that pace? 375 years! And that's only ONE Billion. We're going to spend about $270 Billion in just one year.

So now you understand why I shake my head when our critics come out exclaiming "There's nothing in this Budget".

It's one thing to disagree on the spending priorities. That's fair comment. But it's another thing to tell the hard working taxpayers there's 'nothing' in the Budget.

Thirty-six Billion dollars for Seniors is not 'nothing'.

Over a Billion for the Dept of the Environment is not 'nothing'.

Our National Defense takes $18 Billion to protect our country. Foreign Aid to help others is $5 Billion. Youth Opportunity and Employment Training programs are in the hundreds of millions…and on it goes.

That's not 'nothing'. It's something!

This Budget also sets us on a course to get rid of the deficit (balance the budget) by 2014/15. Not by slashing the Health and Education transfers to provinces (as a matter of fact we will increase the Health Transfer).

Program funding for Seniors and families will also increase. And not by raising taxes.

Instead, we will put a lid on government operations. All departments 'spending’ will be frozen for the next 3 years. We're also introducing legislation to freeze Minister, MP and Senators' salaries at 2010 levels.

What kind of rating are we getting on our tight fiscal management?

The International Monetary Fund, the World Economic Forum, the OECD and the Economist Intelligence Unit all say we are now in the best position financially of the G-8 countries. International investment advisors are saying Canada is the place to be due to our financial management.

Our debt ratio is the lowest in the G-8. Four of the last six months we have seen the job numbers increase. This last quarter our economic performance surprised analysts with 5% annualized growth.

We're certainly not perfect. We still need to do some things better. But you've told us you expect us to manage responsibly. The same way you've had to.

Thank you for that clear advice. That's the plan.

This article is written by or on behalf of an outsourced columnist and does not necessarily reflect the views of Castanet.

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