For the last few months, Joe Oliver has been travelling the world to try new substances and experiment with his free spirit. That would be a fun explanation for why the Finance Minister hasn’t yet tabled a budget. Unfortunately, that isn’t the case. There’s still no budget, and the vacation has been less than glorious. Oliver’s absence has been more like that of a basement gamer, trapped in an escapist fantasy and convinced that his problems will disappear if he avoids sunlight and keeps crushing Red Bull. On April 2, the basement hideout ended. Oliver emerged and proclaimed that the budget would arrive…in three weeks.
Oliver delivered several familiar excuses to the crowd gathered to hear his announcement. He said that the budget took a long time to develop because his government needed to gather all relevant information before making decisions. He said he needed to observe the price of oil, and wait for independent expert analysis. Now, though, with the price of oil in the shitter and damning expert analysis coming in from all corners of the country, Oliver has heard what he needs to hear. He is ready to pull out the abacus and crunch numbers.
Despite a mountain of logical reasoning suggesting that he ought to do otherwise, Oliver has proclaimed that his government would produce its first surplus budget since the 2008 recession. Oliver would be the man to keep the promise that Jim Flaherty broke, then broke again, then pretended never happened, and then left to Oliver to delay for another year. This sort of rising action makes for a great story because it helps prepare the audience for the climax. In this case, unfortunately, Oliver’s climax looks like it will produce a hot mess.
After blowing the nest egg on tax breaks for childless parents and the wealthy, Oliver has little left to save his surplus. As tax revenues tank in the wake of the oil shock, Canadians must wonder where Oliver is finding all the money he plans on spending. Thankfully, Oliver answered all their questions. No, wait, he posed for photos in a down jacket factory.
While he wasn’t too keen on answering relevant questions, the Finance Minister was certainly willing to divert attention to his enemies’ shortcomings. “The opposition’s plans are far from complete or coherent,” he said, demonstrating a level of self-awareness normally reserved for the most careless phytoplankton. He added that Canadians should be wary of opposition plans for a “tax and spend agenda that Canadians simply cannot afford, a risk our country should not assume and a debt burden our children should not bear.” He had a point. After posting the largest deficit in Canadian history and adding to Canada’s debt load for almost a decade, his government has done enough damage already. Something has to give.
Oliver knows that Canadians need a plan to get us out of the gutter, and that salvation won’t come from reckless spending. Perhaps that’s why Oliver’s Conservatives plan to spend $7.5 million to advertise this pre-election budget. Hey, if you’re running a razor-thin surplus shoddily built on the broken backs of Canadian workers, you might as well spend a little extra to make sure that everyone knows you’re doing it.
Conclusively, this budget announcement was a mixed bag. Oliver stopped short of anything other than announcing that, in a few weeks, Canadians will learn how many organs they have to donate to ensure that the Conservatives can sort of keep an already broken election promise. Count your lucky stars if you have two kidneys!