Canadian Politics from Canada's Centre

Saturday, March 25, 2006

Audet's Budget for Quebec: What A Joke!

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Quebec's Minister of Finance released his budget for 2006-2007, and it's a total joke. Here's the sham at a glance:
  1. Audet is increasing personal income tax more in the $17B + range, while giving something like 74-250 million in tax breaks (depending if you believe his statistics or the opposition's). Why even pretend you're reducing Quebeckers' tax burdens? Not to mention that the tax breaks are directed at companies (-0.8%), rather than people.
  2. Audet is claiming that we can't let the debt keep growing and hurt future generations (it's around 45% of Quebec GDP, and is in high double digit billions). So how does he propose to reduce the debt? He's
    introducing a fund to pay off the debt, with 74 million dollars devoted to that purpose this year (can't you tell he's serious about cutting the billions in debt?) . In 20 years, the plan is to have a 30 billion put aside to make the debt 'only' 25% of GDP. This is, of course, assuming good faith in future governments to keep this fund around, and keep to the plan. A whole lot can change in 20 years (including the government). But most of all, this plan is a joke because it's still putting off paying the debt down to the future.
  3. Much of the money for the debt reduction fund is to come from Hydro-Quebec developing new dams. When new dams are developed, an area is flooded, wrecking the surrounding ecosystem. Great thinking Audet: let's swap the debt problem for a destroyed environment. Hey, only the First Nations will notice, so who cares?
Normally I'm against strikes and the public sector getting all pushy like that, because I think it does a disservice to the people. But I'd be quite happy to see our student union, public sector unions, and the Quebec population at large out in the streets against this budget. Sure it's got lots of money for health and education, but the taxes are designed to benefit business at the expense of individuals. The money for education is a step in the right direction, but it's a drop in the teabucket compared to the stupidities composing the rest of the budget. What shocked me was to hear Claude Picher, normally an smart economist and analyst, praising the budget as credible, and stating that Quebeckers can afford it. Afford the higher taxes with what money? The 10 cents more an hour the Vanier institute of the Family has found Canadians are earning since 10 years ago, or with our negative household savings rate?

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